Regarding Adam Jacobs

18 November 2004

Who is being misleading?

The President of the European Medical Writers Association no less - better known to all here as Adam Jacobs - writes in to complain that it is misleading to say that the name of the ghost writer "is not revealed" on papers. And then, when Jacobs himself is asked which papers his name appears on, he is silent. Of course it is a spurious point because the editor wrote "not revealed" not "never revealed" and it is the many cases where it is not revealed that remain a matter for concern (particularly when the head of the profession in Europe is in the habit of pronouncing on every conceivable topic in this journal under his own name).

Secondly, Jacobs's admission about the lack of contact that named authors have with the raw data is truly astounding (and we must assume he knows what he is talking about). Not only are the named authors unable to vouch for the authenticity and quality of the data, they even cannot vouch for the integrity of its presentation. Dr Jacobs apparently thinks this is defensible but as far as I can see every element in the once normal process of research has been short-circuited. Not only is Zosia Kmietowicz not being misleading, but Jacobs's own cavalier attitude could not be more revealing of the culture.

And what is worse is that we have become so apathetic and accepting that these extraordinary disclosures go almost unremarked: indeed would have done if it had not been for my intervention some days after Jacobs's letter was originally posted.

Competing interests: Parent of an autistic child with concerns about the integrity and influence of the pharmaceutical industry

Competing interests: None declared

John Stone, none

London N22

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