Business Ethics - MGMT 368
APril 15, 2012
Is Direct-to-Consumer Advertising Ethical?
"Argh!!!" says a woman with an excruciating migraine as she flips off the earsplitting television. She then pulls out a magazine and begins to turn through the pages when she find an advertisement for a prescription drug to treat migraines. This drug could ease her pain and let her resume her normal activities. Is it wrong for her to see this ad? Absolutely not. Sharing information with the public about possible cures is morally right. Withholding information that can save someone's life is morally wrong. Direct advertising to consumers of pharmaceutical drugs is ethical based on a deontological perspective. Kant considered what is "right" over what is "good" to be superior (wikipedia). In the case of direct-to-consumer drug advertising, the right of sharing information about cures and possible ailments outweighs any possible "good" that can be made on behalf of the advertisers. It does not matter that the advertising companies and the pharmaceutical companies will make money off of the patients purchasing the drugs. What is most important is sharing the knowledge with those patients. When the general public is presented with information about pharmaceutical drugs not only are they given information about something that can provide treatments for symptoms they may be having, but it also informs them about what certain groupings of symptoms may be. For example, a person having strange pains in his/her legs and doesn't know what it is and might not seek medical attention. However, if he/she sees an advertisement on television that describes those exact symptoms he/she is experiencing, the advertisement would give the ailment a possible name. This information could help that person when he/she goes to see his/her doctor. The patient can describe what he/she is experiencing and tell the doctor about the ad that made him/her think there was a reason to visit the doctor...
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