Intended for healthcare professionals

Analysis

Ghostwriting: the importance of definition and its place in contemporary drug marketing

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i4578 (Published 30 August 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4578

Re: Ghostwriting: the importance of definition and its place in contemporary drug marketing

Ghostwriting isn’t the problem. It used to be, until industry realized that all they had to do was disclose the involvement of industry-supported authors, hired to present a commercially-friendly spin to the manuscript. However, transparency does nothing to decontaminate the content; the spin is still there. The only solution is to prohibit the involvement of anyone with ties to industry in the writing of review articles and editorials, as our journal has done. (1)

Once distorted information makes it into the medical literature, the damage is done: other authors unwittingly incorporate it into other articles, spreading the distortions. For research studies, the task of journal editors is to vigilantly avoid hype, for example, not allowing statistical significance to imply clinical significant when none has been demonstrated. (2)

1. Siwek J. AFP's Conflict of Interest Policy: Disclosure Is Not Enough. Am Fam Physician. 2014 Feb 1;89(3):161-167.
http://www.aafp.org/afp/2014/0201/p161.html

2. Fugh-Berman A, Siwek J. Compromising the Medical Literature: The Hidden Influence of Industry-Biased Articles. Am Fam Physician. 2011 Sep 1;84(5):489-491.
http://www.aafp.org/afp/2011/0901/p489.html

Competing interests: No competing interests

23 September 2016
Jay Siwek
Family physician, journal editor
Georgetown University Medicine Center; American Family Physician
4000 Reservoir Rd, NW, Building D Suite 234, Washington DC 20007