Reader Comments

Post a new comment on this article

Additional data

Posted by jrl6954 on 03 Feb 2010 at 19:10 GMT

We appreciate the reaction to our article. Clearly, many medical schools are currently developing policies, or fine-tuning existing policies. It has been brought to our attention that our methodology did not capture all ghostwriting policies at Top-50 medical schools. We could have missed policies because they did not show up in our search protocols, or because of timing issues (many policies have been implemented recently). While these additional policies do not significantly change our findings or conclusions, we do want to recognize them.

The academic medical centers at Ohio State University, University of Alabama-Birmingham, and Emory University have faculty policies on ghostwriting. The University of California - San Francisco regulates ghost-writing; however, the policy does not ban ghostwriting universally. Only articles that are “substantially or completely” ghost-written are prohibited, and the policy does not require that all industry authors be listed as such.

As we have argued, it is crucial that academic medical centers enact anti-ghostwriting policies that are clear and enforceable. We proposed an ideal ghostwriting policy, which requires that industry co-authors be listed on the authorship byline. We think it is especially important that administrators prohibit the practice of mentioning medical writers in the acknowledgments section at the end of a journal article, rather than listing them as co-authors on the authorship byline.

We are hopeful that all academic medical centers will adopt policies with these provisions in the near future.
-Jeffrey R. Lacasse and Jonathan Leo

Competing interests declared: JL and JRL are both members of Healthy Skepticism; JRL serves on the management board.