Business Ethics in Pharmaceutical Industry

Business Ethics in Pharmaceutical Industry

Importance of business-ethics - Business Ethics in Pharmaceutical Industry

Importance of business-ethics – Business Ethics in Pharmaceutical Industry


The pharmaceutical industry is extremely aggressive and its achievement reliant on promotion and sales of every drug. Ethics concerned with pharmaceutical marketing are established from executive morals, which are subject of structure conformity, culture and responsibility (Grace & Cohen, 2005). Governmental orals are applied in the process of establishing sales and promotion tactics to both the healthcare and civic career of the approach.

The pharmaceutical industry is accountable for drugs that have been used to save many lives, cure different forms of cancer and guaranteed AIDS diagnosis is not a death sentence as it used to be in the past. Yet, despite this, the community asks several questions regarding whether the sector has satisfied its social accountability. There are numerous ethical issues in existence which need to be addressed on how the sector can be improved and how the public can ensue decisions regarding their wellbeing are not prejudiced in any way by the sector whose main goal might not be the patient’s wellbeing.

Despite of the great contributions made by the pharmaceutical industry to human advancement which includes development of sensational drug capable of treating cancer, AIDS and heart disease, there are rising concerns between the public and the sector (Santoro & Gorrie, 2005). Debates are as well intense on the manner in which the industry should operate. In this regard some of the leading sectors like the therapeutic community, NGO, government and academic world debate and present solutions to the moral issue of the industry. They examine such aspects as function of patent protection and intellectual property rights, economic prerequisites of medical trials and study, ethics, advertising, pricing and drug marketing.

Research Questions

  • What ethical issues are linked to marketing and advertising in the pharmaceutical industry?
  • What impact does pharmaceutical ethical issues have on patients?
  • Are there ethical issues which are associated with the distribution of products by pharmaceutical sector?
  • What are some of the ethical issues arising from use of complementary or alternative drugs?
  • What are the approaches used to address ethical concerns in the pharmaceutical sector?

Ethical Issues associated with advertising and marketing of pharmaceutical industry

Ethical issues about marketing and advertising of pharmaceutical industry have attracted amplified concentration. It is believed that sellers and buyers come mutually in the marketplace with equivalent footing, but since in the pharmaceutical industries this is unfeasible, patients have to depend on a doctor to get professional guidance. The council must be sterilized by inducements which are offered by the pharmaceutical industries (Davidson, 2005).

Ackerman (2010) asserted that identity is the value of building prospective. In this manner, for the pharmaceutical industries, the industry’s identity is the product, the pledge made through product builds value for them and they are evaluated through efficacy of the products. Most of the time however, the clients are not informed about the brand it promises. They should trust the health practitioners’ professional guidance, either the doctor or pharmacist. Pharmaceutical industries also use health experts who converse their product promise and message to consumers. Brand pledge is that the industry talks of to its clients and it is expected to be well delivered.

The pharmaceutical industry is surrounded by speculations of conspiracy, which are typically based on theory they exterminate every person with their needless drugs in order to make wicked profits. Further, global governments conspire with large pharmaceutical industries for purposes of controlling world order. A large number of websites recommending such hypothesis continue to sell their ‘natural drugs’, medicines that guarantee health to customers in an approach that is gentle and in agreement with a universe that is friendly (Lappin, 2013).

The pharmaceutical industry has the mandate to uphold the world’s wellbeing which goes past proceeds. In some cases, like release of medical trials data, a strategy that is more ethical and accountable to business can lead to greater affluence. A shift towards a business that is more ethical might arise from this and it will be a great benefit to all.

Fines and trials connected to unethical behavior such as J&J are documented properly. However, what point is there is recording such data is there is no effective action from the individual companies to change behaviors that lead to unethical decisions in the first instance? If a single company changes in this manner, it has the ability of helping other companies improve their reputations as they will follow suit. This kind of corporate transformation is the fastest way of reaching large groups and having a significant impact on society.

Ethical Issues Association with Distribution of Products

Based on categorization of certain drugs by varying countries, pharmacists can distribute without the recommendation of a physician or the community can buy preparations indirectly from the pharmacist. This involves moral practice by the pharmacist in which case, the sales are supposed to be in line with the guidelines set by authority for purposes of ensuring public safety. The pharmacist has the right to dispense though in some countries where the pharmacist’s figure is petite, the thought of the pharmacist dispensing is not employed. In these nations, the physician dispenses and prescribes at the same time. In such nations pharmacists have the right of distributing without any direction in certain kinds of drugs to the civic. In these instances, the morals of pharmacists are needed in order to ensure drugs sold do not cause any damage to the society.

What is the Impact of Pharmaceutical Ethical Issues on Patients?

On the solitude and privacy matters, there exists universal responsibility which is recognized by ethical codes and applicable to the wellbeing and social care personnel which includes pharmacists and their staff. Respect of confidences among the pharmacists and patients influences patients into revealing sensitive information that is needed by pharmacists in order to provide quality pharmaceutical care (Wingfield & Bissel, 2004). Without privacy guarantee, patients are less willing to reveal such information and this results to obstacles in provision of quality and effective care.

The autonomy of a pharmacist is at all times influenced by unavoidable physician-patient relationship. This autonomy interfaces with the physicians ethics. At all times, pharmacists are in conflict state weighing the patient’s right for information and physician ethics for non-disclosure. A good example if failure to disclose the side effects of medication a doctor prescribes, for instance, in the case of prescription of cancer drug, the doctor might not want to inform the patient of side effects as they might not comply.

Conventionally, community pharmacy has a focus on drug product where the main business prominence is drug dissemination. In recent years, the prominence has evolved resulting in the pharmacy turning into a center that is more center on patient as a mutual duty between the pharmacist and patient for the best medical therapy results.

Ethical Issues Arising from Use of Alternative and Complimentary Drugs

Pharmacists find themselves in ethical quandary in use of complementary and alternative drugs. As a pharmacist specializing in health care, it is important to offer high level of impartiality, substantiation based healthcare (Applebe, Wingfield, & Taylor, 2002), while their businesses are expected to make proceeds. The professionalism of pharmacist’s and the industry roles are inconsistent with sale of unconventional drugs. Great deliberation should be given since pharmacists selling complementary and alternative remedies in their pharmacies can provide reliable medicines and to some point, uphold their use. Pharmacists have the duty to provide guidance that is honest for patients regarding these medicines.

Pharmacists should also take the mandate of counseling patients about use of complementary and alternative medicines in order to ensure the protection and wellbeing of patients is not placed at risk. Counselling should as well adhere to principles of evidence that are based on honestly informing customer of unproven therapies and respecting the beliefs of the customers as well as their autonomy in making decisions regarding their treatment while at the same time, offering professional guidance to the pharmacist. There are cases where complementary and alternative medications are incongruous with ethics of modern clinical science and good paradigm is Homeopathy treatment model. This contradiction with all basic medical science needs to be taken into consideration. The ethical global issues pharmacists face on alternative and complementary medicines are handled appropriately in accordance to Code of Conduct or Code of Ethics of a given nation and on basis of global perception, the pharmacists is among health professionals most trusted.

Approaches Applied in Addressing Ethical Issues in Pharmaceutical Industry

The business of pharmacy and medical device morals or personnel with the responsibility of being extremely concerned with lives and morals in R&D department. It is where decisions assessment are established first. In any building tradeoffs decisions, one value is mostly subordinated to another. In the process, a device or drug is released when it is below a given standard and the long term side effects usually are not as clear as the short term financial benefits or as is the case in J&J’s, released for one purpose but used for another. Also, at some point during the procedure, the management and administrators team begins walking a thin line, making the procedure of decision making dull and distorting the superior reason.

It is necessary to make a universal call to action based on conscious values or psychological models concealing the ethics of circumstances and creating groupthink. Groupthink refers to a contemplation process, typically unconscious, that keeps the public from questioning basics of a condition. For example, in J&J, the Risperdal team made the decisions which instinctively concluded satisfying and developing medication. The approach to carry this out was selling Risperdal to a target marketplace that was bigger. If they were attempting to help dementia patients in interim, they were never conscious of harmful long-term outcome through model of unconscious thoughts. These unconscious thoughts are considered a filter that prevents the public from profound reflection (Gil, 2012).

The dilemma in this case is not the filter itself but rather, the difficulty or public forgetting they perceive the world through intellectual models or personal filters. When individuals consider personal filters, they can take time to subject themselves then, subject the filters of others together with their data and reckoning- instead of blindly accommodating what they speak- till the reality of the state is known. Once the truth comes out, the ethical problems gets exposed leaving a leeway to make conscious decisions with apparent connection to higher purpose of pharmaceutical industry increasing.


Medical and pharma device companies require to develop decision making “technology” that works in order to blend technical dimension of their business (quality of data and drugs from trials) with human dimension (how leaders formulate strategies people use in order to be healthier) of their businesses. No human approach has the ability of making up for a technical approach that is flawed. This process needs to begin with questions like; do you neutrally have good medicine to build the market? Are clinical trials confirming your drug is an ideal solution to improve the world? If on technical level, there is no superior drug, how will the industry put it into the marketplace, or simply sit down and state, there is an issue here, let us talk about it. It can be achieved but we will do it one discussion at a time (Gil, 2012).

Relations between the pharmaceutical sector and medical doctors have augmented considerably in the last couple of decades and it is often the result of such ordinary activities. These relations are going to help bring conflict of interest among responsibilities of physicians to patients and pharmaceutical sector concerned in selling the medicine to make profits.


Ackerman, L. (2010). The Identity Effect. OD Practitioner, 36-42.

Applebe G. E., Wingfield J., Taylor L. (2002). Practical Exercises in Pharmacy Law and Ethics. Pharmaceutical Press, London.

Grace, D., & Cohen, S. (2005). Business Ethics. Victoria: Oxford University Press

Gil, R. (March 26, 2012). Business Ethics and Reputation in Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Companies. Pharmaceutical compliance monitor, Compliance and Ethics Institute.

Lappin, G. (June 22, 2013). Business ethics of the pharmaceutical industry. University of Lincon. Retrieved on 15 November 2013 from

Santoro, M., & Gorrie, T. (2005). Ethics and the Pharmaceutical Industry. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press

Wingfield J., Bissell P., & Anderson, C. (2004). The Scope of Pharmacy Ethics—An Evaluation of the International Research Literature, 1990–2002’, Social Science and Medicine 58, 2383–2396.

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