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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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Author's reply

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

Author: Sergio Sismondo
Position: Professor
Institution: Queen's University
E-mail: sismondo@queensu.ca
Submitted Date: October 09, 2007
Published Date: October 10, 2007
This comment was originally posted as a “Reader Response” on the publication date indicated above. All Reader Responses are now available as comments.

In my one sentence on the American Medical Writer's Association (AMWA), I did not mean to imply that it is anything other than an organization to represent American medical writers. Thomas Gegeny and his colleagues may be right that I mischaracterized it when I suggested that it appears to be dominated by Medical Education and Communication Companies (MECCs). If 2 — or on my count 3 — of the 5 national officers on the AMWA's website list affiliations with what appear to be MECCs, that is entirely consistent with the organization representing large numbers of writers who play no role in the ghost management of journal articles. In addition, I should emphasize that there is nothing wrong with MECCs being represented among those national officers.

Gegeny et al are certainly correct that the AMWA's conference is wide-ranging. My attention to such panels as "How to Respond to Peer Reviews of Manuscripts and Grants" and "The Journal Selection Process: Getting Beyond the Impact Factor" distracted me from the very wide range of topics being covered, most of which have nothing to do with the ghost writing of articles. Indeed, had I looked closer I would have made a much more cautious statement.

I am glad to learn of the AMWA's Code of Ethics and Position Statement on the Contribution of Medical Writers to Scientific Publications. I hope that the organization will continue to take strong stands in favor of scientific integrity, and I thank Gegeny et al. for their strong agreement with the central claims of the article.

I very much appreciate the comments of other readers, such as Zhenglun Pan, who correctly see ghost management as a very serious issue, affecting clinical decisions around the world.

No competing interests declared.