Posted by: Witch Doctor | October 4, 2010

Ghost Writers and Creeping Doctors


You’ve found a website with nothing much on it?

Why are you looking at it then, My Black Cat?

I just am……

What’s the website called?

It’s called DesignWrite and they seem to be involved in medical and scientific meetings. But there is no evidence of any scientific meetings going on there.

Well, My Black Cat, if you read Margaret McCartney’s blog and conscientiously do a trail of all the clicks, you might find more about this site and lots of other interesting things too. There might be a very good reason why there is nothing much on their website.

You will recollect how, until recently, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was all the rage. Any woman of a certain age who even thought of having a hot flush, or blushed, or went into a mood, was deemed neglectful of herself if she did not visit her GP or gynaecologist in order to request that she was prescribed the HRT panacea which was regarded as treatment for all the real and imagined symptoms of an unfortunate but common malady that has been with the female variety of The Humankind since the beginning of time.

It is called The Menopause.

Then, suddenly HRT tumbled down into a black hole!

Why HRT took the tumble is an interesting story, My Black Cat.


This story is of interest to all pharmaceutical companies, scientists and the medical profession.

Above all, it is of interest to these ghosts who write.

It is well worth a read, because it illustrates how Creep can enter the medical and scientific communities and go un-noticed for decades.

Here is one possible scenario:

A doctor believes that well-known pharmaceutical companies are generally ethical. Indeed he has never given much thought to the possibility that some might not be.

The doctor concerned is asked for his input into a research paper. He is happy to give it – indeed he is flattered because it probably means that the company concerned perceive him to be a leader in that field. Indeed, My Black Cat, according to the new jargon that we are coming across, he might even be considered to be “A Thought Leader.”

This doctor assumes that the study design, data collection and statistical analysis are all valid. Statistics is not his strong point but he is sure the company concerned employs its own impartial statistical experts.

He is a busy doctor but finds time to read the paper. He makes a few minor alterations that are accepted.

The paper is published with his name appearing as a co-author.

He does not receive, nor does he expect to receive, remuneration for his contribution although he may or may not be whisked away to a five star hotel in a capital city far away from his own country for a couple of days so the paper can be presented and peer reviewed by a suitable audience.

It has not registered in this doctor’s brain that he has been used.

His name, but not his brain, is being used to give credibility to the paper.

His assumptions regarding valid ethical and statistical input were wrong. He should have checked them out for himself and challenged them.

In not doing so, he has participated in Creep.

He unknowingly participated in Creep because he was flattered.

He also did it because of the “Publish or Perish” philosophy that has been embedded into the promotion prospects of doctors for decades.

So he did it to enhance his C.V.

He also did it because it was something he could put into his ridiculous “Appraisal Folder” along with nice letters from little old ladies and satisfied others.

And no doubt when revalidation kicks in, this publication will be acknowledged by his Responsible Officer who will give him very satisfactory feedback to the GMC.

But how does the doctor feel now that the true facts about this medical preparation are known?

How does he feel when he knows he has been duped?

Does he confess to his appraiser, his Responsible Officer and the GMC that he is a doctor who creeps?

And will he tell them that many people may have been harmed?



wordpress stats

redapple.jpg a red apple ……………………

The Witch Doctor – Link to a random page





© Dlundin |


  1. It’s all a bit strange. I’m particularly surprised by Richard Smith throwing the cat among the pigeons.

    “Uncharitably, unfairly, and inaccurately they might be described as a bunch of ghostwriters.” he says here —>

  2. Just found this:

    “The Group is open to all and intended to serve as a catalyst for wider debate and dialogue about the legitimate role of medical communications and the role of the global pharmaceutical industry in delivering optimal healthcare management to all patients. “

    and this

  3. Smithey blew his writing fuses some time ago, and hasn’t replaced them yet. After reading his post, are you really any the wiser about what he thinks about his ‘shadowy crew’?

    It seems that while Witch Doctor was composing this excellent post, Dr No was writing this post. Dr No expects FSD to be the new menopause, and Libigel the new HRT (until, that is, too many ladies of a certain age end up sprouting down in embarrassing places…).

    How little, it seems, has changed.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: