Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


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

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: (Published 30 August 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4578

Rapid Response:

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

The International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) and Global Alliance of Publication Professionals (GAPP) have already provided detailed responses to the issues raised in the article by Alastair Matheson. The American and European Medical Writers Associations (AMWA and EMWA) fully support these responses which were prepared by medical communications leaders who have been on the forefront of assessing and establishing ethical and robust professional standards. These standards included input from editors of first-tier peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals. There was no pharmaceutical industry review or input into these rapid responses.

Clearly Dr Matheson’s interpretation of what constitutes ethical transparency differs from that of these major medical communications organizations representing thousands of professionals working around the globe, as well as differing from that of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) who represent more than 500 medical journals.

The undersigned organizations have been working towards transparency and disclosure for more than 15 years and invite all interested parties with a stake in the future of effective and ethical medical publications to tender constructive suggestions directly to them.

Alison Rapley – President, European Medical Writers Association
Brian Bass – Past President, American Medical Writers Association
Al Weigel – President and CEO, International Society for Medical Publication Professionals
Serina Stretton – Global Alliance of Publication Professionals

Competing interests: This statement is provided on behalf of EMWA, AMWA, ISMPP and GAPP. It was reviewed and agreed by the full Executive Committee of EMWA. EMWA is a not-for-profit organisation whose funding comes primarily from members’ subscriptions and conference attendance. EMWA members come from the pharmaceutical industry, contract research organizations, medical communications agencies, nonprofit and government organizations, journal publishing, medical translations, academia, or work as freelancers. This statement was also reviewed by the Administrative Review Committee of AMWA. AMWA is a not-for-profit 501(c) (3) organization whose funding comes from member dues and educational programs. AMWA members work for pharmaceutical companies, universities and medical schools, hospitals, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, journals, and many other businesses and organizations. Many work as freelance writers and editors. Competing interests for GAPP and ISMPP were provided previously

30 September 2016
Alison M Rapley
freelance medical writing consultant
Brian Bass, Al Weigel, Serina Stretton
European Medical Writers Association
Chester House, 68 Chestergate, Macclesfield, UK. SK11 6DY