I read with interest Dr. Fox’s perspective in the June issue of The Rheumatologist [TR] regarding ghost writing in medical research. Dr. Fox is all for integrity in research (who isn’t?); nevertheless, he takes to task some of the people (Ross et al and the editors of the Journal of the American Medical Association [JAMA]) who write about the corrupting influence of industry on physicians, including those in academics [JAMA 2008;299(15):1800-1812]. Part of his motivation may be to defend members of ACR who have been involved in the activity of ghostwriting and guest editing. This approach may play well to readers of The Rheumatologist, but it would seem that Dr. Fox should address his concerns to the editors of JAMA. That way, the authors of the article could offer a rebuttal to Dr. Fox’s concerns and assertions, and we all could get closer to the truth about this important issue.
Explore This IssueNovember 2008
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Rajiv Dixit, MD
Northern California Arthritis Center
Walnut Creek, Calif.
I thank Dr. Dixit for his interest in my essay about ghostwriting that appeared in the June issue of TR. I agree that the editor of JAMA needs to learn about the questions that I raised in my column, and I have sent her a copy of the June TR issue. In that column I stated that ghostwriting is “an unacceptable practice that has no place in the scientific and medical literature.” I am therefore puzzled by Dr. Dixit’s inference that I am trying to defend members of the ACR who have been involved in such activities. A concern, expressed in my TR essay, is that some members of the ACR have been falsely accused of ghostwriting in a paper published by JAMA, through a process of document analysis that was poorly executed and that ended up grouping the innocent with the guilty. ACR members whose reputations are unfairly impugned should, in my view, be defended by their colleagues.
David A. Fox, MD
Past President of the ACR