Back to Blog
Sometimes, I’m conflicted about indirectly working for pharmaceutical companies. If I focus on the fact that my work contributes to medical research, then the conflict dissipates quickly.
This conflict is grounded in the fact that pharmaceutical companies have a rather deplorable reputation. By way of example, I present to you an episode of a TV medical drama. Doctor M. agrees to help a pharmaceutical company enroll a certain number of patients in exchange for a fee. He has a difficult time finding consenting patients, so, he ends up bribing another doctor to refer patients to him.
First, bribery is obviously unethical. Second, the plot emphasizes that doctors and drug manufacturers are profit-driven, which means that doctors can be bought to convince patients into trying experimental drugs.
This serves as a broad picture of how American society perceives clinical trials, scientific research, pharmaceutical companies, the healthcare system, etc. Easily manipulated and only serving to generate profit.
However, this is only one perspective. As with every story/argument, there are many possible perspectives. I adopt a perhaps less popular one when I’m translating, and that motivates me to sit down, focus, and put my all into every project.
Of course, these companies are profit-driven! They’re large, private corporations. This doesn’t change the fact that they are devoted to advancing medical research. They want to help stop cancer, find a cure for AIDS, create a COVID-19 vaccine, etc. While imperfect, drug manufacturers are kept in check by regulatory measures when they conduct clinical trials. Such measures ensure their research is accurate and ethical.
Thus, for all the corrupt doctors/manufacturers, there are just as many, if not more, scientifically-sound practices and associated players (i.e. ethics boards) making sure the drug development process produces safe, effective drugs and potentially saves lives.
As a translator
I take comfort knowing that I participate in the scientific branch of this drug development process. (I would never succeed as a doctor or sales rep because I’m an introverted linguist.)
The discharge and SAE reports that I translate are original documents describing real patients’ conditions. The academic articles that I translate are based in research, and I can only presume will be used to inform the development of certain drugs. The ethics materials that I translate bolster consistency between the science and morality.
Therefore, my work as a translator is intended to support medical research, not big money or corrupt practices, as some Americans might imagine. And I’m okay with this.