← Previous Post: | Next Post:


Spinal Tap

The University of Wisconsin has endured the taptaptap of bad news about one of its faculty for years, and for years it has closed its ears to it.

It’s our old friend Thomas Zdeblick, object of a federal investigation into his remarkably lucrative relationship with Medtronic.

Investigators … found that two papers Zdeblick co-authored were among 11 in which Medtronic employees, including those in the company’s marketing department, were secretly involved in drafting and editing, a practice known as ghostwriting.

Both papers were published in the Journal of Spinal Disorders & Techniques where Zdeblick has served as editor-in-chief since 2002. That role was the subject of a 2009 Journal Sentinel/MedPage Today investigation that found the journal frequently published favorable articles about Medtronic products under Zdeblick’s watch. The story noted that Zdeblick’s financial relationship with Medtronic was not disclosed by the journal.

Many more gory details here. The picture the investigation draws is one of rampant conflict of interest destructive of patient health and research integrity. An Emory professor to whom Medtronic gave $25.5 million protests that the money had absolutely no effect on the articles he wrote about its products.


The Zdeblick scandal jumps to Reuters. Perhaps now, with the release of the Senate’s definitive report, this story will get the attention it deserves. The University of Wisconsin will no more respond to it than Donna Shalala’s University of Miami will face up to what it has in Charles Nemeroff. It will take international coverage of practices at schools like Wisconsin for the conflict of interest that corrupts academic medicine in the United States to change.


Two of the featured Medtronic beneficiaries are at the University of Louisville.

Margaret Soltan, October 25, 2012 12:01AM
Posted in: conflict of interest, ghost writing

Trackback URL for this post:

Comment on this Entry

Latest UD posts at IHE