I am writing to you today as one of the new members of the ISMPP Board of Trustees, but I am not new to ISMPP. In fact, Merck & Co., Inc. was one of the founding sponsors of ISMPP, and Dr. Laurence Hirsch, the former head of our Medical Communications Department (as we were known then), was the first president of ISMPP. He and the other founding members believed that industry conducted sound research and presented that information ethically in our publications, but that all could benefit from sharing best practices and educating those who were new to the profession. ISMPP still continues that mission today, and I think we have grown as an organization from humble beginnings to a mature organization with a global reach.
Let me give you my perspective as someone who has been an ISMPP member since the beginning of the organization. I was a humble medical writer when ISMPP first came to be, and a centralized writing group was a new concept at our company. Writers also acted as publication managers, and we did not work with medical communication companies to write our publications. Attending the first ISMPP meeting was eye-opening for me; it provided the opportunity to find out how other pharma companies approached how they wrote up their research, both by attending the different sessions offered, as well as by chatting about publication practices and issues with other meeting attendees.
I remember having a staff meeting after that first ISMPP Annual Meeting to discuss what we learned and if we wanted to change any of our processes based on presentations and ideas from the meeting. This is something we still do today after every Annual Meeting. Over the years, ISMPP has continued to add more opportunities to educate publication professionals and share best practices beyond the Annual Meeting, offering the popular ISMPP U webinar sessions, and creating and continually refreshing the content on the ISMPP website. ISMPP has also recognized that not all publication professionals reside in the United States, and so it has taken on the world, in that it now sponsors meetings in Europe and Asia Pacific.
Discussing controversial issues in the publications realm is not new to ISMPP. At the very first meeting, we had a guest speaker who came to discuss an authorship issue in which he was the injured party. ISMPP has explored and educated its membership on authorship and other “hot topic” issues throughout the years, such as ghostwriting, data transparency, data sharing, conflict-of-interest disclosures, and publication ethics, to name a few.
In response to some of the criticisms questioning the ethics of medical writing by pharma, ISMPP sponsored two updates to Good Publication Practice for Pharmaceutical Companies (GPP) with the release of GPP2 in 2009 and GPP3 in 2015, following the original GPP publication in 2003. These guidelines have been incorporated into the publication policies of many of the large and midsize pharma companies. They define how our profession has evolved from a disparate group of publication professionals trying to publish research the best we knew how, with many perhaps not knowing what they didn’t know or understanding the ramifications to all of the pharma industry for less-than-stellar practices, to an organized educated group following clear ethical standards and striving to educate those who are new to industry publications to maintain the integrity of our profession and protect the reputation of our companies and the pharma industry.
I believe that ISMPP is doing a good job of fulfilling its mission to advance the medical publication profession globally through enhanced integrity and transparency in medical publications; improved standards and best practices; and education, advocacy, and professional collaborations. This past year, I decided that I would like to take a more active role in contributing to this mission, and I am happy to now be an At-Large Trustee on the ISMPP Board of Trustees. I look forward to working with you to help ISMPP continue to grow and achieve its goal to be the leading global authority on the ethical and effective publication of medical research to inform treatment decisions.
With best wishes,
Carolyn Hustad, At-Large Trustee, 2017–2018 ISMPP Board of Trustees