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Here’s an eerie interview with a ghost for pharma. Read the whole thing.


Q: I wonder if a member of the public might not feel it to be odd for a pharmaceutical company to pay a freelance writer to produce a scientific paper that discusses its product in comparison with the product of a competitor; a paper moreover that concludes that the sponsoring company’s product is likely to be more effective tha[n] the competing product. I would think they would feel that a conflict of interest must inevitably arise from doing so. Would you agree that there might be a conflict of interest issue here?

A: Because I received payment?

Q: Because a pharmaceutical company paid you to produce an article that talks about its own product, compares it with a competitor’s product, and concludes that the sponsoring company’s produc[t] may be more effective?

A: I can see that a layperson, or a member of the public, might feel it to be a little unethical. But I don’t see any conflict of interest for me per se. If anything, the conflict may lie with the journals that are willing to accept such a sponsored publication, while knowing that it may inform decision-makers.

The elements of the ghost’s response to the interviewer’s question are worth specifying, because they are absolutely classic:

1. First, dismiss moral questions as emerging from naive laypeople.

2. Next, pass the buck. It’s the journals’ fault.

3. Move on to It’s not marketing; it’s information. “[Pharma] need[s] to get … information across to the prescribers.”

4. Conclude with: You can’t expect university professors in medical research to write and publish their own papers! They’re too busy! “[T]he people who do the necessary clinical research are busy physicians and academics, and they have a lot of commitments.”

Background on ghostwriting here. We’ll never get rid of it. Too much money. Too many lazy assholes.

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