Two of the speakers at the ISDB symposium in Vancouver—Sergio Sismondo (Professor of Philosophy, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario) and Adriane Fugh-Berman (Georgetown University Medical Center, Pharmacology and Physiology, Washington, DC)—highlighted techniques in knowledge manage- ment used by the drug industry to promote their products.
In the pharmaceutical industry, knowledge is a resource to be accumulated, shaped and deployed to best promotional effect.
To this end, the industry produces an abundance of special-purpose knowledge, flooding the markets it is most interested in, and distributing it via its most effective channels. This activity includes managing the production of published articles (ghost management) and using third parties, including influential physicians (known as key opinion leaders) to convey marketing messages.
Ghost management of articles is the process by which companies and their agents produce and release articles in medical journals and posters at meetings to establish key marketing messages.
1. Sismondo, S. Ghost management: how much of the medical literature is shaped behind the scenes by the pharmaceutical industry? PLoS Med 2007 4(9): e286. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040286.
2. Fugh-Berman A, McDonald CP, Bell AM, Bethards EC, Scialli AR. Promotional tone in reviews of menopausal hormone therapy after the Women’s Health Initiative: an analysis of published articles. PLOS Med 2011; 8(3). http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3A- doi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000425.
3. Fugh-Berman AJ. The haunting of medical journals: how ghostwriting sold “HRT’’. PLoS Med 2010; 7(9). e1000335. http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3A- doi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000335.