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Drug Companies and Ethics Essay

After researching pharmaceutical companies, I quickly realized this is a very controversial topic. I’m not certain anyone in many of these companies have very many moral standards. Drug companies seemed to be very profitable from the researchers to the drug reps that deliver “gifts” and sample meds to the doctor’s offices that push their medications. Many activists will argue that drug companies put themselves before human rights. Companies violate health related human rights by prioritizing profits over peoples access to essential medications.

Many large scale drug companies argue that they are proudly taking the stakeholder approach and striving to promote fair labor practices and non-discrimination in the workplace. They will also argue that the reason medication prices are so high is because of all of the research that is involved in developing a medication, while activists argue that meds are so expenisve due to the marketing they put into a drug in the first several years.

I found researching the pharmaceutical companies to be very interesting. It was very hard to get past the negative controversies and debates to find anything positive about any one company. However, I finally found one company in particular, Merck & Co. that has taken responsibility and turned around some negative press by developing a program that helps thousands of people.

Lynch 2 Merck is one of the largest and most profitable drug companies in the world, but they have also been a leader in a donation program that helps Third World countries in Africa, South America and Yemen since the 1980’s. Merck became one of the first drug companies to become socially responsible by donating to countries that could not afford the essential medications needed to prevent a disease that caused something as severe as blindness in hundreds of people. Their medication, Mectizan, taken annually can alleviate and has ultimately eliminated this disease in some countries. Since the 80’s when Merck started this program many other drug companies have jumped on board. Companies such as Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline have all started taking social responsibility and are now donating through programs to these Third World countries.

These companies are donating medications that our country takes for granted and that we may not need in our everyday life. Johnson & Johnson donates a medication that rids their children of intestinal parasites while Pfizer donates Zithromax to eliminate trachoma. If it were not for these companies donating such large quantities of these drugs every year, millions of lives would be lost. I find it very interesting that the drug companies that many people complain about and that make millions a year in profits seem to also be able to do such wonderful things in these countries. I found many articles that complained about the CEO’s and about the terrible morals that some of these pharmaceutical companies are known for. I think that when it comes to morals and ethics people see what they want to see. Drug companies have had a bad name for many years so you don’t see a lot of positive press and articles such as the one I found. It was actually refreshing to read about the drug companies that donate and the lives they save.

Some of us may not agree with how these companies push their drugs into our doctor offices and we may even say that they do not practice great ethics, but it seems as if these companies are at least trying to keep a “good name.” I am certain that the people in these Third World countries are very grateful to the drug companies that donate because not only are these companies saving their lives but they are also saving the lives of their children.

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