Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is the ranking Republican on health insurance reform and has also been a dogged critic of conflicts of interest in academic medicine. We’ve commented before that Grassley is a gold plated hypocrite because he himself reads ghostwritten talking points from the insurance industry, makes false and fraudulent claims on their behalf while trying to influence legislation and himself takes millions in health industry money without publicly acknowledging it. He has become typical of the corrupt phonies he self-righteously complains about.
Grassley’s own corrupt behavior doesn’t meant the things he complains about aren’t just as reprehensible as his own fraudulent behavior, however. Recent news (here, here) brings more allegations of medical studies published in top tier journals but written by ghostwriters hired by drug companies. After minimal or little input prestigious doctors then agreed to have their names used as authors to enhance credibility and hide the origin. Grassley wants to do something about this (although campaign reform is off the table for his own conflicts), and indeed something needs to be done. It has been going on for a long time. Here’s a piece we did more than four years ago giving details of the practice. Four years later, as the news reports indicate, little has been done to stop to stop what was cynically described as “a bit like farming”: