About those medical journal articles

Pharma companies write journal articles for physicians. A pharma company hires a medical writer to draft an article published by a physician or other healthcare professional. It’s a controversial practice, raising concerns about the potential for bias and the lack of transparency about who is responsible for the article’s content.

There are a number of reasons why pharma companies choose to write journal articles. One reason is to control the message that is being communicated about their drug. By hiring a medical writer who is familiar with the company’s product and its marketing goals, they can ensure that the article is written in a way that is favorable to the drug.

Another reason for pharma writing an article is to save time and money. It can be expensive and time-consuming for a company to research and write articles. By hiring a medical writer, they can outsource this work and get the article published more quickly and easily.

There are several ethical concerns about these practices.

One concern is that it can lead to bias in the medical literature. If a company can control the content of an article, it may be more likely to emphasize the positive aspects of its drug and downplay the negative aspects. This can make it difficult for physicians to decide which drugs to prescribe to their patients.

Another concern about ghostwriting is the lack of transparency. When an article is ghostwritten, it is not always clear who is responsible for the content of the article. This can make it difficult for readers to assess the credibility of the article and the potential for bias.

In recent years, there has been increasing scrutiny of writing practices in the pharma industry. Several journals have now adopted policies that require authors to disclose if they have received financial support from a pharma company. Still, they seldom ask how much was written by the listed author(s).

Despite these efforts, writing by pharma companies remains a common practice in the pharma industry. Physicians need to be aware of the potential for bias in written articles and to critically appraise the content of these articles before making prescribing decisions.