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Medical ghostwriting and translation

Medical ghostwriting and translationOver the past couple of years, scandals around the use of ghostwriters to push drugs have rocked big pharma. Merck was implicated last year, Wyeth just now. While it may be that "everybody" is doing it, this sure doesn't help turn around the public's negative views of big pharma.

For translation service providers, this issue raises another concern: Am I liable if I translate a text that turns out to be ghostwritten and gets dragged through the press?

The short answer is no.

To begin with, translation is not all that common when it comes to scientific papers. If a translator or translation company is involved in this business, you would know. And you would have negotiated an indemnification clause with your client.

More importantly, translations and similar "editing services" have long been viewed as entirely legitimate.

Nonetheless, as the New York Times points out, medical journals are learning more about ghostwriting, and some editors have started asking authors harder questions. Who knows? In the future, this may lead to translators involved in the production of scientific papers to be identified.


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