Sunday, August 1, 2010
Ethical Issue in Business - Pfizer, Examined
Pfizer, Inc (Pfizer hereafter) is an international pharmaceutical firm with $45.2 billion in profits in previous years and has an estimated allotment for research and development around $7.9 billion (Pagnattaro, 2005). Currently involved in a legal battle originating from allegations that the company unethically pursued clinical trials in an impoverished nation, which resulted in the death of 11 Nigerian children as well as causing deafness, blindness, and paralysis in many other children puts Pfizer under a microscope of ethical scrutiny. The purpose of this paper is to examine the issues behind the ethics of the clinical trial in Nigeria including what caused the deficiencies in ethical standards, what were the ethical decision-making systems in place at the time of the issue and what roles did management and executives have in the situation. A proposal of a plan on how to avoid the same ethical dilemma from happening again, incorporating both a perspective and psychological approach, becomes the final focus of this paper. The Ethical Issue Defined
Obtaining Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for clinical trials in the United States has many stages and costs pharmaceutical companies millions. Reproducing a drug is a relatively low-cost undertaking after establishment in the mainstream market, but to develop a new drug can cost as much as $500 million (Pagnattaro, 2005). “Pfizer’s testing took place in 1996, when an epidemic of bacterial meningitis, measles, and cholera occurred in Kano, an impoverished Nigerian city,” (Pagnattaro, 2005, p. 171). The issue has many ethical sub-issues in the situation in which Pfizer conducted a clinical trial in Nigeria that would never meet approval in America, some of which include the following: * The control group received an established drug but at...