Some of the authors listed in the Merck study reports of concern deny their lack of involvement or question the true nature of ghostwriting. One neurologist, originally listed as "External author?" and then listed as Dr. Leon J. Thal, of the Unviversity of California, San Diego, in the final draft died a year ago in an airplane crash.
The journal Neuropsychopharmacology published the Thal paper on Alzheimer's disease in 2005. Citing prohibitions against the practice of substituting a well-known doctor's name to research conducted by others, the journal's current editor, Dr. James H. Meador-Woodruff, plans to investigation the allegations.
Merck officials said on Tuesday that even when outside authors are listed for publication, they are in fact involved in the research process as well as the drafting and final review of any paper which bears their names. They also admitted that professional writers have sometimes been hired to develop drafts early on but the final work belongs to the doctor named as author. Merck lawyer James C. Fitzpatrick says this practice doesn't necessarily mean the final product doesn't reflect the listed author's opinion of the work.
The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) is a nonprofit mental health watchdog. responsible for helping to enact more than 150 laws protecting individuals from abusive or coercive practices. CCHR has long fought to restore basic inalienable human rights to the field of mental health, including, but not limited to, full informed consent regarding the medical legitimacy of psychiatric diagnosis, the risks of psychiatric treatments, the right to all available medical alternatives and the right to refuse any treatment considered harmful.