Merck Case Study

Topics: Pharmacology, Pharmaceutical industry, Clinical trial Pages: 6 (2177 words) Published: December 10, 2012
Merck was at the top of the pharmaceutical market for many years. The company made substantial profits almost every year. Not only were they a company that made money but they also made their financial gains in an ethical manor. Fourton magazine even named them the “most admired” company. But in 2004, the company would be faced with major challenges that would threaten to end the company’s existence. Their once best selling painkiller Viol had been recalled by the federal government because the drug increased a person’s risk for heart attack and stroke. The federal government then opened an investigation on the company after internal emails surfaced. These emails were from Merck’s scientist to their executives stating that the drug Viox greatly increased a person’s chance of heart attack and stroke. Merck went on to introduce the drug despite this information. The once “most admired” company was suddenly in the middle of an ethical issue that no one would have expected.

1.Merck was faced with many challenges when it came time to introduce their new painkiller Viox. The company for many years had patents on other drugs that brought in the profits for the company. But these patents eventually were going to run out. The company was under the pressure to deliver a drug that would be able to be used in everyday life by everyone. This is also referred to as a blockbuster drug. They were also under the pressure to keep their good ethical name. Merck was forced to rush the development and testing period of the drug in order to introduce the drug and still make their substantial profits.

The drug seemed to be the perfect cure for the company’s problems. But the scientist had major concerns about the drugs side effects. They had discovered that the drug significantly increased a person’s risk of heart attack or stroke. The scientists wrote an email to the executives stating their concerns. The executives choose to ignore the warnings and introduce the drug once it was approved by the FDA.

Merck had very tight ties with the Federal government. In 2003, the company spent 40.7 million on lobbying. They also hired many former elected officials. This would help to increase their influence on policy makers. With their increased influence Merck would be able to get some policies that would benefit them as a company. One policy that was passed reduced the amount of time in a test period to just over a year. This one policy is one of the contributors to Merck’s chain of unethical decisions.

I believe that when it came to the research/development and the introduction of the drug Viox, Merck acted in an unethical manner. Merck introduced the drug even though they knew the drug could increase a person’s risk for heart attack or stroke. When the executives received the emails from the scientist they had a few options. Unfortunately, they decided to take the most unethical decision of them all. The company could have opted to extend the testing period and try to fix the problem. Had the testing period been extended the company may have been able to find a solution to the severe side effects. Without these side effects the drug would have never been recalled. There for, the company would have had the financial gains from the drug for many years. Instead the company had to pay millions into settlement cases and had the product pulled from the selves.

When it came to the advertising of the drug, Merck once again acted in an unethical manner. As Merck introduced their new painkiller Viox, they knew of the severe side effects that it had. But in their advertisements of the drug, they mentioned nothing about the side effects. This caused people to take the drug without knowing the side effects it had. Merck could have put some sort of warning on the label of the drug. This would have been the more ethical decisions and might have saved the drug from being recalled by the federal government.

So far the introduction of the drug Viox was...
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