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Essay

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Ghost Management: How Much of the Medical Literature Is Shaped Behind the Scenes by the Pharmaceutical Industry?

  • Sergio Sismondo
  • Published: September 25, 2007
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0040286
  • Featured in PLOS Collections

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A point of clarification

Posted by plosmedicine on 31 Mar 2009 at 00:15 GMT

Author: Erin Rogers
Position: Health science specialist
Institution: No affiliation was given
E-mail: erin.rogers2@va.gov
Submitted Date: October 10, 2007
Published Date: October 11, 2007
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

I only have one concern about this essay, which is mostly a point of clarification. I feel the author does not make a point to differentiate pharmaceuticals medical literature from all medical literature when answering the question "How Much of the Medical Literature Is Shaped Behind the Scenes by the Pharmaceutical Industry?" While all of the cited examples are pharmaceutical work, generalized statements are then made, such as "a substantial percentage of medical journal articles (in addition to meeting presentations and other forms of publication, which are not the focus here) are ghost managed" and "there is strong evidence that ghost management of medical research is common and is part of campaigns by pharmaceutical companies." To readers unfamiliar with the field, this may give the impression that the results of this review apply to the broad medical research field, even though much medical research (from basic science to translational science and health services research) does not involve pharmaceuticals or their manufacturers.

I bring this up primarily because I often see non-pharmaceutical study results and researchers looked upon skeptically by the public because they are erroneously lumped in with "the industry," which makes valid medical information difficult to disseminate. Other than that concern, I enjoyed reading this review of pharmaceutical research and agree with the major points.

No competing interests declared.