Vioxx Decisions – Were They Ethical?
In the late 1990s, a pharmaceutical company called Merck was a leader in this industry. The pharmaceutical industry required millions of dollars and great amounts of time to be invested in research and development. From 1995 to 2001, Merck was successful in releasing 13 major drugs into the market. One of these drugs was one that would treat rheumatoid arthritis. The drug, Vioxx, acquired the approval of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May 2009 (Cavusgil, 2007). Vioxx became one of the top five selling drugs in the market in the next five years. However, Merck pulled the drug from the market on September 30, 2004 due to increased observations of cardiac arrest and stroke in many consumers. Merck faced an ethical dilemma when it found increased observations of cardiovascular problems in patients. However, it took many years for the company to pull its top selling drugs from the market. The ethical issue, the interested parties and solutions will be addressed in the following paragraphs (Brooks & Dunn, 2012). Ethical Dilemma
As in many industries, the pharmaceutical industry has great competition. Vioxx was competing successfully with Pfizer’s products, Celebrex and Bextra. However, Merck’s product was especially thriving because, unlike Celebrex and Bextra, Vioxx did not contain naproxen. This ingredient is harmful to the gastrointestinal system (Cavusgil, 2007). By 2003, Vioxx gained revenue for Merck that reached $2.5 billion per year and was available in 80 countries (Brooks & Dunn, 2012). The company filled 105 million prescriptions that accounted for 20 million consumers since its release in 1999. Within those four years, Vioxx was one of the top five drugs for Merck in terms of profits. Since March 2000 Merck had obtained increasing evidence of adverse side effects, and yet, allowed the drug to remain in the market until the latter part of 2004. Studies in 2000 showed an increased risk of cardiovascular...
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