Legal Remedies for Medical Ghostwriting: Imposing Fraud Liability on Guest Authors of Ghostwritten Articles
Simon Stern1*, Trudo Lemmens2
1 Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2 Faculties of Law and Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Citation: Stern S, Lemmens T (2011) Legal Remedies for Medical Ghostwriting: Imposing Fraud Liability on Guest Authors of Ghostwritten Articles. PLoS Med 8(8): e1001070. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001070
Published: August 2, 2011
Copyright: © 2011 Stern, Lemmens. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Funding: The research is supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council on The Promotion of Integrity in Biomedical Research. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
Abbreviations: RICO, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act
* E-mail: email@example.com
Provenance: Invited; externally peer reviewed.
Ghostwriting of medical journal articles raises serious ethical and legal concerns, bearing on the integrity of medical research and scientific evidence used in legal disputes.
Medical journals, academic institutions, and professional disciplinary bodies have thus far failed to enforce effective sanctions.
The practice of ghostwriting could be deterred more effectively through the imposition of legal liability on the “guest authors” who lend their names to ghostwritten articles.
We argue that a guest author's claim for credit of an article written by someone else constitutes legal fraud, and may give rise to claims that could be pursued in a class action based on the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
The same fraud could support claims of “fraud on the court” against a pharmaceutical company that has used ghostwritten articles in litigation. This claim also appropriately reflects the negative impact of ghostwriting on the legal system.
PLoS Medicine: Legal Remedies for Medical Ghostwriting: Imposing Fraud Liability on Guest Authors of Ghostwritten Articles
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