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Michael Schafle
Michael Schafle
Attorney • (215) 790-4577

SUE DOCTORS WHO GHOSTWRITE MEDICAL STUDIES? MAYBE

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Medical ghostwriting refers to the practice in which pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers write articles touting their products and pay prominent physicians to sign onto these articles as co-authors. These articles are then submitted to medical journals without full disclosure of the involvement of the drug or medical device company in its drafting. The problem with this process is that after these articles are published, the journal readers feel that they are getting an impartial analysis of the efficacy and safety of a medical product when they are actually reading a biased article disseminated by the product manufacturer.

Until recently, it was thought that there was little or nothing the general population could do to deter the practice of ghostwriting within the medical field. However, recently, an article written by two University of Toronto law professors (Simon Stern and Trudo Lemmens) suggested that class action lawsuits could be filed alleging fraud by the ghostwriting physicians. Who would file these lawsuits you might ask – – – perhaps the general public? No, Messrs. Stern and Lemmens stated that the class action lawsuits should be brought on behalf of the journal readers, usually physicians who are faced with the decision of whether to use a given drug or medical device. It is an extremely novel and smart idea. The question is whether such a class actions will be permitted by the courts. At this juncture, the only answer is…..maybe.