Dow Corning Silicone Breast Implants
Dr. Robert Vega
BUAD 5304 Ethics
July 5th 2015
Dow Corning Corporation was a start up venture between Dow Chemical Company and Corning Inc. in 1943. The goal of Dow Corning Corporation was to create and market a new material, silicone. The joint venture proved successful, with nearly 10,000 employees and revenues upwards of $2 billion, it accomplished this goal with the collaboration of Dow Chemical and Corning, both interested in increasing profits from the new venture. Although scientists at DCC had backed their product and believed the silicone gel breast implants were safe for humans. DCC perhaps succumbed to competitive pressures, and did not pay attention to some employees’ complaints about safety issues. It was found in a state jury in Louisiana that “Dow Chemical Company had knowingly deceived women by hiding information about the health risks of silicone used in breast implants” (MEIER, 1997)
The Dow Corning ethics audit program did not reveal any concerns about the silicone-gel breast implant line because of their lack of scientific knowledge concerning these products. John Swanson a permanent member of Dow Corning’s Business Conduct Committee played an important role in shaping and maintaining the company’s outstanding well regarded ethical policy. (Gorman, 2012) Swanson saw ethical issues in the scientific testing the company had conducted, yet management felt if the science department said the product was safe, that was the end of the discussion. Also the silicone breast implant was created in response to a surgeon’s need, and the company was following an expanding market, And saw a great opportunity to make an enormous profit.
The critical factors necessary to make such an ethics audit program work effectively are that Dow Corning’s policy committed the company to total honesty and integrity, and this policy was reinforced by the Business Conduct Committee a system of checks and balances. (Byrne, 1992). Jere D. Marciniak, an area vice-president who is chairman of the conduct committee was quoted standing behind the “DOW CORNING'S ETHICS SYSTEM, Although it apparently failed to tip off the company to potentially unethical behavior, says Marciniak, "it still will aid and guide us through this difficult time." The Dow Corning’s ethics system involves six managers to serve a three-year period on the business conduct committee. Each member is required to devote up to six weeks a year in audits. Two members audit every business operation every three years. The board reviews up to 35 locations annually, three hour reviews are held with up to 35 employees. Committee members use a code of ethics as the framework and courage employees to raise voice on any ethical issues. Results of the audits are reported to a three-member audit and social responsibility committee of the board of directors.
Keith R. McKennon, who recently succeeded Ludington as chairman, genuinely defends the conduct of the company's managers. "I have a high regard for their sincerity and integrity, and I don't ascribe bad motives to anyone,"( (Mckenzie, 1992) this portrays the integrity of the decision announced to not resume production and sales. This announcement was well advised and ethical in their decision to discontinue production due to other factors excluding science and safety such as the condition of the current market. Besides ceasing production and sale Dow Corning agreed to spend $10 million on research into breast implants in the United States and will offer up to $1,200 to each woman who for medical reasons needs their implants removed. Bert Miller, president of a subsidiary at Dow Corning Canada was quoted even after the decision to pull product from market saying “we at Dow Corning stand behind our product”.
The obvious recommendation for Dow Corning chemical would be rather than trying to repair damages from the negative onslaught and turmoil they are...
References: Byrne, J. A. (1992). The Best Laid Ethics Programs. New york: Bloomberg business.
Gorman, M. E. (2012). Transforming Nature: Ethics, Invention and Discovery. Springer Science & Business Media.
Mckenzie, R. (1992, marxh 20). Dow cancels implant line. Financial Post.
MEIER, B. (1997, august 19). Dow Chemical Deceived Women On Breast Implants, Jury Decides. The New York Time.
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