Ethical Issues in the Pharmaceuticals Industry

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Running head: Ethical Issues in the Pharmaceuticals Industry Ethical Issues in the Pharmaceuticals Industry University of Phoenix Ethics in Management October 13, 2008 American and European drug companies are the source of most of the modern medicines that have revolutionized healthcare in the last 20 years. Ethically, the development of new medications to safeguard health and mitigate human suffering should be fairly simple. In reality, however, there is much ethical ambiguity in the development, testing and marketing of these medications. The need to lessen human suffering often runs afoul of competing interests: research and development costs, the companies’ profit motive and responsibility to shareholders, and the necessity for trials and testing prior to marketing the drugs, and then the marketing strategies themselves. The ethical standards of Goal-based, Human Nature, Rights-based, Duty-based, and Human Nature Ethics, provide a good framework for an analysis of these ethical challenges, and also point to possible solutions. It is unrealistic to expect a drug corporation, made of many different people, with disparate ethical bases, to have an externally-focused ethical code. A corporation is mostly concerned with self-perpetuation. Most corporations are amoral, in the larger context. Goal-based ethics provide a good rationale for the conduct of pharmaceutical companies. These companies have been marketing drugs to doctors by means of fancy incentives, rather then promoting a solid product. The primary goal of a pharmaceutical company is to market drugs, make a profit, and reward shareholders, thus allowing the incumbent management to keep their jobs. While, ideally, a corporation would have a corporate soul, and its own ethical code focused on the greater good, in reality, it is the profit motive that becomes more
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