Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Drug company chiefs accept the need for more openness

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 20 January 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:163

Rapid Response:

A ghost by any other name would smell as sweet

I share Adam Jacobs's disappointment that medical "ghostwriters" were
not asked to appear before the Commons select committee on the influence
of the pharmaceutical industry. His assurances about ethical practice
would certainly carry greater weight here if he were to name and describe
the projects which he and his company have contributed to. But when
challenged in Rapid Responses by myself on these matters he has been
silent perhaps to the point of embarrassment [1]. Recently,in the Journal
of American Physicians and Surgeons he disclosed that he had worked for
MMR manufacturers and defendants Smith Kline Beecham and Aventis Pasteur
[2], but I am unaware of him disclosing any client details in nearly 250
posts in BMJ Rapid Responses. In order for a code of practice to mean
anything at all (and it generally constitutes on evasion of having
genuinely enforceable rules) it is surely necessary for the process to be
transparent, but we know virtually nothing of any of Jacobs's or
Dianthus's projects. Should he not - in such a professionally interested
letter - provide a client list? I do not see how he can have it both ways.
As it is we rely entirely on his vague assurances and almost nothing else
I can see to back them up.

[1] See Adam Jacobs 'In defence of medical writers' 28 October 2004
and following correspondence (including 7 posts from myself and one
further on from Adam Jacobs):

[2] http//

See also: John Stone: 'Refutation of Madsen in the Journal of
American Physicians and Adam Jacobs's interests' 5 january 2005:

and F Edward Yazbak: 'So Unusual' 10 January 2005:

Competing interests:
Parent of an autistic child concerned about pharmaceutical industry transparency and openness

Competing interests: No competing interests

24 January 2005
John Stone
London N22