What are the facts?
Merck & Co Inc is one of the largest pharmaceutical
companies for drug production. Growing revenues throughout the 1970s and
reaching almost $2 billion in 1978.
Accordingly, the company dedicated hundreds of millions every year for the
purpose of various projects to research and develop viable drugs to sustain continued
growth. For Merck, the average length of time to bring a drug to the
market was twelve years with costs close to $200 million dollars. A lot of potential drugs did not provide a big
enough return for them to be viable for production. The government wanted to
improve the rate of production for medicines that helped against rare diseases.
So, they decided provide tax benefits to companies that partook in the creation
of such cures. River blindness or
“onchocerciasis” is caused by a parasitic worm injected by bites from black
flies as a result blindness develops after the parasite is given time to grow
and manifest inside the body. The victims of this disease are spread across
thirty-five countries and number in 340,000 people in 1978 according to the World
Health Organization (WHO). within one of Merck’s research projects, a compound called ivermectin was an antiparasitic drug
used for veterinary purposes, but it was also found to have potential to treat
a wide variety of parasitic illnesses including river blindness. The issue lies
in the low success rate, even if the drug is created, there exists no
incentives that would give the pharmaceutical companies any benefit for curing
deceases like river blindness, which makes it lack economic viability.
What are the ethic issues?
The ethical dilemma is that to save people Merck & Co. needs
to create a medicine for river blindness that may not bring any profit to the
company and has a low chance of success. Or they can simply continue with using
the compound for veterinary purposes for the sake of profit. Merck & Co is
responsible in creation of this medicine regardless, especially considering
their slogan is putting people before profits.
What are the effects on each group?
Society – People in third world countries that are suffering
from river blindness would greatly benefit from a potential cure if Merck &
Co. decide to develope the drug.
Employees – Employees that are currently working for Merck
& Co. may be affect financial if the company doesn’t make a profit from the
potential new drug. Researcher and scientist are a pharmaceutical company’s
biggest asset in terms of resources.
Shareholders – Investors may be inclined to contribute funds
for Merck & Co, as they would not get a return on their investments, if
they results of the compound came out poor
Merck & Co – Merck has everything to lose if the outcome
for formulating a new compound for river blindness was unsuccessful. Not being
able to turn a profit on their new drug may have negative effects on
shareholder’s value, but this would also boost the reputation of Merck & Co
for doing the ethical thing.
What are the alternatives?
to develop their existing compound for the animal health market and don’t fund
research towards a treatment for river blindness.
time and resources towards the creation of a new medicine for curing river blindness.
Merck & CO. discovered a possible cure for the parasite condition by the
creation of Ivermectin which can help millions of people
What is your decision? Justify It.
Merck & Co. should continue the
studies into the production of the cure for river blindness. One of Merck’s
main principles is that they try to remember that the medicine they create is
for the people not the money. That would also be the most morally positive
decision they could make. If Merck & Co. states that they prioritize people
over profits, then they should practice what they preach and continue creating
the cure. Merck is also the only company
that successfully found the compound ivermectin that has the highest chance of
helping people infected with river blindness parasite. Once they create the cure,
Merck & Co will not only save millions of people but they will get phenomenal
recognition for the achievement.
In terms of potential drawbacks of
this decision: Merck could get assistance
from the government in the production of the cure. Or they could ask other
companies for help in creating the cure, so that not only the cost is divided
between the companies but also an improvement in man power is provided.