The Business Enterprise Trust Case

Topics: Pharmacology, Pharmaceutical industry, Ethics Pages: 4 (829 words) Published: October 19, 2014
The Business Enterprise Trust Case
What are the basic facts?
Merck & Co. Inc. is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies in the world for producers of prescription drugs. Merck had sales of 1.98 billion and net income of 307 million in 1978 and continues to steadily rise. Merck invested hundreds of millions of dollars each year in research and allocate the funds amongst various projects. On average it would take approximately 12 years and 200 million dollars to bring a new drug into the market. Many potential drugs offered little chance of financial returns, as some diseases were so rare that treatment could never be priced high enough for the company to recoup the investment. Congress sought to encourage drug companies to further research on rare diseases by proposing tax benefits and seven-year exclusive marketing rights if they manufactured drugs for diseases afflicting fewer than 200,000 Americans. River blindness, also known as “onchocerciasis” is a disease found in over 35 developing countries throughout the Third World. The cause of the disease came from parasitic worm that were carried by black flies. In 1978, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that approximately 340,000 people were blind because of this disease and 18 million or more were infected with the parasite, but not many showed symptoms. Merck researchers have found a compound called ‘Ivermectin’, which has proven to have an astonishing effect against wide range of parasites in animals. Dr. Campbell proposed the idea to have the compound formulated to work against human parasite, but the success rate was very low. Even if the drug was successful attained, the economy viability would be nil and no U.S. or international program would create any incentives for Merck to develop drugs for diseases like river blindness. What are the ethical issues?

The ethical dilemma is that Merck & Co have to make the decision whether to pursue research for river blindness disease that...
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