Burroughs Wellcome and "Ethics and Big Pharma"

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Burroughs Wellcome and “Ethics and Big Pharma”

a) Consumer Activist perspective

b) Business perspective

1. Should Big Pharma focus on the creation of shareholder value, the classic objective of business entities, or should this focus be mitigated by the “needs” of patients primarily, but also citizens in general?

a) Consumer Activist perspective:

I believe governments have a strong social and moral responsibility to all its citizens to allow the opportunity of accessing health care, to include medicines. The private industry has a social responsibility with its employees and their communities; they create jobs, provide benefits to their employees (medical insurance, retirement plans, appropriate working conditions, salaries, etc), and help communities prosper thru their tax contributions. This is as far as private industry contribution goes, beyond this point I believe the well being of citizens in general is the responsibility of our governments and not the private companies. Pharmaceutical companies are in business for financial gains. It’s nice to think that there are companies who as a priority care for the well being of their customers and they’re communities, but this is not what these companies are in business for. On the other hand, we the people have entrusted our government to decide what is best for us. Our government is the people’s ‘company’ and we are its ‘employees.’ Just like in the private industry in where it’s in the company’s best interest the well being of their employees to work and make profits for them, it should be in the government’s best interest the people’s well being so we can continue to produce and contribute to the prosperity of our nation (pay taxes). Less employees, lesser contributions.

b) Business perspective:

Pharmaceutical companies are in business for financial gains. They have a financial responsibility with its shareholders, which is to make profits. They also have a quality responsibility with their customers, to make quality products at competitive and reasonable prices, and to make the product easy to access and perform as expected. If a business has the competitive advantage of being the sole provider of a product or service, then it is expected for these companies to try and maximize their profits, regardless of what the product is. On the long run, unfair pricing and poor quality will create competition thus reducing prices and improving quality, but this is something for companies to consider as business decisions and not as social benefits to communities. If there is no illegality in taking advantage of its marketing position then why wouldn’t a company take advantage of this? If there are no moneys to be made, pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t be in business in the first place.

2. Do US patients who suffer from life-threatening illnesses have the right to drug(s) which treat their condition? How about foreign patients? I such rights are asserted who (or what entity) should have financial responsibility?

a) Consumer Activist perspective:

As a consumer activist, the most important aspect is to protect the consumer. Taking this stance, any US or foreign patient who suffers from life-threatening illness has the right to a drug or drugs which treat their condition. A main reason for this is that the consumer activist has the consumer’s best interests in mind. While the business is entitled to make a profit from the drug, it is more important that the public can afford the medicine. A way to make this possible is for the government to subsidize the cost of the drug to make it more affordable for consumers. “An estimated 40% of persons with AIDS have received care under the Medicaid Program, which is administered by the Health Care Financing Administration and funded jointly by the federal government (55%) and individual states (45%). Estimated annual costs for AIDS care and treatment funded by Medicaid ranged between $700 million and...
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