Letter to the Editor

The Important Distinction Between Ghostwriting and Professional Medical Writing Services

Spielmans and Parry describe the unethical practice of ghostwriting and suggest that my company (Dianthus Medical Limited) is involved in it (Spielmans and Parry 2010). We are not. We provide professional medical writing services to high ethical standards, which is not at all the same thing as ghostwriting. It is unfortunate that Spielmans and Parry wrote about the activities of my company without taking the trouble to check their facts by contacting me first; had they done so, I could have explained to them the difference.

For some years now I have been an outspoken critic of ghostwriting (Jacobs 2004; Jacobs and Wager 2005; Adamson et al. 2008; Gøtzsche et al. 2009), and have been at the forefront of efforts by the European Medical Writers Association to raise ethical standards among professional medical writers. I find the suggestion that my company acts in an unethical manner deeply offensive.


  1. Adamson, L.M., M. Whitman, A. Jacobs, and T.E. Bunting-Early. 2008. Ghostbusters should only bust ghosts. Nature Biotechnology 26: 1067–1068.

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  2. Gøtzsche, P.C., J.P. Kassirer, K.L. Woolley, E. Wager, A. Jacobs, A. Gertel, and C. Hamilton. 2009. What should be done to tackle ghostwriting in the medical literature? PLoS Medicine 6(2): e23. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000023.

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  3. Jacobs, A. 2004. Time for the ghosts to take on physical form. Lancet 364: 487–488.

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  4. Jacobs, A., and E. Wager. 2005. European Medical Writers Association (EMWA) guidelines on the role of medical writers in developing peer-reviewed publications. Current Medical Research and Opinion 21: 317–321.

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  5. Spielmans, G.I., and P.I. Parry. 2010. From evidence-based medicine to marketing-based medicine: Evidence from internal industry documents. Bioethical Inquiry. doi:10.1007/s11673-010-9208-8.

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Correspondence to Adam Jacobs.

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Jacobs, A. Letter to the Editor. Bioethical Inquiry 7, 287 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11673-010-9226-6

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  • Public Health
  • Ethical Standard
  • Medical Limited
  • Unethical Practice
  • Medical Writer