Grassley Probes into Ghostwriting Practices that May Result in Pharmaceutical Fraud

United States Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa has asked eight leading medical journals to describe their ghostwriting policies and practices. The inquiry is part of his broader effort to establish transparency with regard to financial relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and medical professionals, according to a July 2, 2009 press release by the senator. Such financial relationships can lead to pharmaceutical fraud practices, such as off-label marketing.

In December, Grassley wrote to Wyeth and DesignWrite, a medical education and communications company, regarding allegations that Wyeth hired DesignWrite to draft articles promoting the company’s hormone therapy products and seek academic investigators to sign on as the primary authors. Previously, Grassley had written to Merck and Scientific Therapeutics Information, a medical publishing company, regarding similar allegations reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association related to articles on Merck’s VIOXX studies.

He sent the letter on July 1 to the American Journal of Medicine, the Annals of Internal Medicine, the Annual Review of Medicine, the Archives of Internal Medicine, Nature Medicine, PLoS Medicine, The Journal of the American Medical Association and The New England Journal of Medicine. Grassley asked for the editors’ written responses by July 22, 2009.

For the full press release, go to:

For more information about qui tam law and health care fraud, contact Nolan and Auerbach, PA.