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August 27, 2008

Guest Authorship, Mortality Reporting, and Integrity in Rofecoxib Studies

JAMA. 2008;300(8):900-906. doi:10.1001/jama.300.8.901-c

To the Editor: In their study of guest authorship and ghostwriting of publications related to rofecoxib, Dr Ross and colleagues1 selected an article by Thal et al2 as their primary example of an apparently guest-authored clinical trial publication. Guest authorship was inferred because (1) an early draft identified as part of rofecoxib litigation indicated “External author?” rather than the first 3 names later included; (2) only 1 of these 3 academically affiliated authors was acknowledged in the draft version as a participating investigator in the Rofecoxib 078 study group; and (3) results in the 2 versions were quite similar. The article and accompanying Editorial by Drs DeAngelis and Fontanarosa3 assumed that these authors had little or no role in either the study or in preparing the publication and therefore were uninvolved “guest” authors.

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