Corruption and Justification in the Ghost Management of Medical Research

Professor Sergio Sismondo has been working to detail the key mechanisms by which which pharmaceutical companies establish dominance over particular areas of medical knowledge. He has been looking at, for example, the ghosting of articles for medical science journals and at drug companies' recruitment and management of physicians to serve as "key opinion leaders". In his project at the Safra Center, he is studying how people justify their work to manage medical knowledge, as well as at how physicians and researchers justify their involvement with the drug industry. For example, the people who ghost-manage medical science articles appear to consider their work justified if: (i) they are producing or communicating sound science; (ii) they are acting according to established protocols; (iii) what they are doing is strategically important or unavoidable within their business context; or (iv) they are promoting health or meeting patient desires. Sismondo's study fills out those categories, and also subjects them to scrutiny. His goal is to better understand the moral economies that allow, and even promote, institutional corruption in medicine, medical research, and the drug industry.

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