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Chapter 32

SOC 7108 Chapter 32: SOC 7108 - Chapter 32

Course Code
SOC 7108
Loes Knaapen

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SOC 7108
Pharmaceutical companies perform/sponsor significant amounts of medical research,
analyses such as clinical trials and reviews. While they recognized the value of scientific journals
that report its research, interests have increased efforts to systematically treat research as a
resource that needs to be carefully developed and deployed to affect the opinions of
researchers and doctors. Publication of pharmaceutical company-sponsored research in
journals along with the representations in conferences/meetings are now governed by what is
known as “publication plans” that seek to extract more scientific and commercial value out of
data and analyses, sometimes studies designed with that specific value in mind through careful
construction of papers that establish consistent profiles for drugs. Most is handled by contract
research organizations (CROs) in which the data produced is analyzed by staticians part of
pharmaceutical companies. Everything from the writing to the publication process is guided
through planning teams similar to industry funded review papers.
To gain the most commercial value from research, papers that are published are written
under the names of medical researchers that are independent known as key opinion leaders
(KOL) even though company authors may be recognized. The work of reviewers is rarely
acknowledged even sponsorship matters. For this particular reason, publication planning is
seen as ghost management of medical research and publication a major activity among 50 firms
with up to 40% ghost managed for publications. Because it is not visible its existence and
effects have been unveiled due to legal action (e.g. page 2).
What follows for the rest of this paper, the author reports on the third annual meeting
of ISMPP (primary goal was to focus on ethics and good publication practices) with three goals:
1. Completing a previous project on documenting the activity of publication planning. The
bulk of the paper is used to describe and provide an analysis of publication planning
through an ecological context relating to the marketing departments of pharmaceutical
companies, journals, authors and audiences.
2. The author wanted to learn about the general insights as planners as experts have on
this particular topic. (only partially successful).
3. Lastly, the author wanted to learn about the publication planners comprehension of
ethics but this was not explored directly in the paper
An Insider History of the Field
The other similar organization is TIPPA that also has annual meetings and common
speakers. FOR ISMPP most attendees were publication planners who worked for independent
agencies while other attendees worked directly for pharmaceutical companies. The non-
planners were generally invited speakers, more women than men attended, average middle
age. Most were American and the meetings were two days long. The publication planning
course began with a history of the field provided by a CEO member of a middle-sized agency in
1984 and had extensive data on Norvac and wondered whether it should be published. They

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had to gather information for all of the trials in which the company had access too. Then it had
to be sorted in order to decide to publish it in credible journals for non-overlapping audiences
and had done so through greater internal communication. They made it very clear that if you go
to a meeting you know ahead of time what is going to be presented. The campaign was a great
success making it a successful credible drug by 1989. The publication planning is a document
that outlines the recommended communications and timings but the activity of planning is
broad and includes the work to implement plan to produce what can be delivered. It can and
should begin before the research is conducted in order to contribute to the research design to
map out the key messages and potential papers for different audiences and authors on the
papers as well. The emphasis is placed on communication with the research created among this
Once the research becomes available, they hire writers for those papers for revision and
submission. Publication planning as a whole is done by heterogenous teams with more than
one professional planner that guide the process of transforming the data into a paper and
presentation who work for dedicated agencies. According to the speaker, the field can benefit
for some improvement in publishing because it helped give non English speakers more
presence in medical journals along with meeting activists for AIDS trials for their data to be
published more quickly from a matter of years to a matter of months. This was due to a new
emphasis placed on meetings, abstracts and posters at publication venues and were more
important than journals within the 1990s.
In this time period, journals recaptured some of their claim to being newsworthy by
taking advantage of technological publishing. Another milestone was based on the shift
regarding how drug companies share prices were evaluated as a result of focusing on
blockbuster drugs in order to gain excessive sales rather than focus on the performance of the
drug with global sales increasing more than 10% per year. Lastly, there was a change in the
structure of research in the industry funding that moved from supporting academic research to
purchasing research from CROs so this is not coincidental to guide research from inception to
From an industry perspective this is what a utopia looks like as a result of having an
agreement and alignment on a plan, not just on publication, there is a full plan with everyone
on board. Utopia is a publication plan implemented without hitches with a sequenced
performance. Tactical recommendations are made for specific submissions. Dates are laid out
and the plan may also describe other communication opportunities. It shows a world without
uncertainty because everything is planned and they take pride in their planning efficiency. The
planners should be established early before too much data is collected because even if they
work on the writing and publishing they want to be present before data too much of the data
goes unpublished. So many ideally want to present before the research is designed. This is
especially essential when a market needs to be created in order to comprehend an unmet need
leading to disease mongering.
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