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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-a

To the Editor: In their study of guest authorship and ghostwriting in publications related to rofecoxib, Dr Ross and colleagues1 published a 3-page table of articles describing clinical trial results or scientific reviews discussed internally within Merck (or whose author's name had been mentioned in Merck e-mail messages) prior to publication that proposed an external, academically affiliated investigator as an author. Despite a disclaimer in the Methods section (“[I]dentification of these articles does not imply that each was guest authored or ghostwritten; we examined these articles because we believed their discussion within internal documents . . . suggested that Merck was aware of the manuscript prior to publication and perhaps had provided support for the project”), inclusion of a review article within that table may suggest to the reader that it was inspired, previewed, authored, or paid for by Merck. This was not the case for at least 2 articles in that table: a review2 that I coauthored and a review3 for which I was sole author.

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