Those people who think that people who work in agencies would rebrand their own grandmothers, with a view to marketing do have a point. But the surprising fact is that many people who I’ve worked with have strongly held ethical principles.
And there are certain sorts of writing that can give you a moral sheen of superiority. Writing for charities is always one of these. As a scribe you can sleep happy in the knowledge that your efforts have gone directly to raising money for a charity, and this is invariably a good thing.Writing for pharmaceutical companies may seem less noble. But I would argue it has its ethical satisfactions too. Many patient support programmes are designed to help people to talk to their doctors about their medical conditions.
Even in the UK, where people have access to a national health service free at the point of delivery, still manage to avoid talking to medical professionals about serious problems. And we are also lousy at taking the pills we have been prescribed. Astonishingly, even people who have been prescribed medication to prevent the rejection of a transplanted organ will neglect their medications.
Most patient support programmes I have created or been part of aim to support people in following their doctor’s advice – by taking the treatment prescribed for them. And from an ethical perspective I find this easy to live with.
In fact getting people to talk about the very things they least want to talk about, and encouraging patients to get the treatment they need is something I feel quite proud of.
And if you want to be really contentious… Just compare the spend that a major pharmaceutical company puts into – say – cancer research, versus the many very well meaning cancer research charities around the world. We are talking billions versus millions.