Medical Writing Institute MWI: Ethics in medical information
Medical writers need to be held to a high standard, and need to take the Hippocratic Oath to "do no harm". However, as the earliest printed book in English says, "all things that are lawful may not be useful". Medical writers rarely understand their own power.
According to an exhibit in the British Museum, Ancient Egyptians put the status of the writer just below the Pharaoh, because writers could do magical things, their thoughts carved on stones, their statements outlived them.
We now know that thoughts written on paper outlived the Ancient Greeks and Romans, and that thoughts written electronically have the potential to live as long as the universe. With this understanding, the ethical duty of the medical writer needs to be taken seriously.
If you are asked to lie about data, leave the job, the contract. This will come back to haunt you.
If you are being paid to put someone else's name as the author, and you know that person had nothing at all to do with the study, you will not be protected by universities, pharmaceutical companies, law courts: no-one. That person will benefit greatly with grant monies, promotions, salary increased, and will probably make you sign a non-disclosure contract. Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical industry does not protect medical writers. The best you can do is show the client the ICJME requirements, and ask that you be acknowledged as an editor.
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