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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 6876

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Journal Article

Phillips SG, Carey LA.
Whose article is it anyway?
Lancet 1999 Oct 30; 354:(9189):1563


The article by Larkin on ghost writing misinterprets the article that the authors wrote. Their definition of ghost authors included people such as statisticians, fellows, graduate students and technicians. Unidentified medical writers assisted in fewer than 2% of the articles that they assessed. The negative opinion of Drummond Rennie about ghost writing is not shared by many authors. About a third of the authors would use the services of a medical writer if they were available in order to help improve the quality of their articles.

*letter to the editor/United States/ghost writing/scientific publications/PROMOTION DISGUISED: GHOST-WRITING AND JOURNAL ARTICLES Authorship* Ethics, Professional* Humans Writing*


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Cases of wilful misrepresentation are a rarity in medical advertising. For every advertisement in which nonexistent doctors are called on to testify or deliberately irrelevant references are bunched up in [fine print], you will find a hundred or more whose greatest offenses are unquestioning enthusiasm and the skill to communicate it.

The best defence the physician can muster against this kind of advertising is a healthy skepticism and a willingness, not always apparent in the past, to do his homework. He must cultivate a flair for spotting the logical loophole, the invalid clinical trial, the unreliable or meaningless testimonial, the unneeded improvement and the unlikely claim. Above all, he must develop greater resistance to the lure of the fashionable and the new.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963