Week 2 Individual RES 351

Topics: Pharmacology, Pharmaceutical industry, Pharmaceutical drug Pages: 5 (840 words) Published: January 7, 2015


The Pharmaceutical Industry and Unethical Research
Business Research Res/351
November 12, 2013
Aruna Abeyakoon
The Pharmaceutical Industry and Unethical Research
The pharmaceutical drug companies have a tendency to focus more on the sales and revenue than the research of any given product. This trend leads to misrepresentation of crucial scientific research on products. An article in The New York Times from December, 2005 reported scientific research fraud to be a growing issue impinging upon drug development. It appears that drug companies have interchanged the quest of treating and healing sickness and disease with the sole purpose of making money. Not only do the drug companies practice unethical research studies, but they also spend more money pushing the products then they do for the research of the drug. Two such companies have been accused, trialed and charged for smudging results and falsifying findings for lucrative benefits.

Merck and Co. was accused of several unethical acts. Merck & Co. marketed a drug called Vioxx. The drug was said to have less gastrointestinal problems than its counterpart competition – naproxen. However, Vioxx had considerably more side effects including; heart attacks and strokes (Vershoor,C.C., 2006). The drugs were pulled from the market in September, 2004, but not before over 100 million prescriptions were filled. Merck & Co. (Gardinar, H. 2009). was also accused of misrepresentation or concealing of study results to doctors. The New England Journal of Medicine reported that previous studies of three patients had been withheld. In these three particular studies the patients all suffered heart attacks when taking Vioxx. Sales reps for Merck & Co. were trained to use subliminal selling tactics. Additionally, Merck & Co. only chose biased speakers of their products at educational events.

Another company under scrutiny for unethical conduct is Pfizer. The drug Bextra was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2001 for treatment of arthritis and menstrual cramps. Incidentally, it was not approved for acute pain nor was it said to be any more powerful than Ibuprofen. During this time Pfizer was under investigation for unethically marketing another drug. Representatives of Pfizer were told to dismiss the earlier allegations and inform doctors that Bextra could be administered for surgical pain. On top of that they advised to give higher doses than recommended by the FDA; even with the higher risks of heart problems and kidney failure (Gardinar, H. 2009). Both companies were held accountable for their unethical behavior, each having to pay a subsequent amount of money. However, no amount of money they have to pay can compensate for the people who are at risk for taking these drugs. Marketing drugs with high health risks is not only unethical, it is also morally wrong. The drug companies market their products in one of two ways; they either direct market to the patient or through the doctor. To the patient, they create the need to have the medicine. The patient then insists to the doctor they must have it. The patient then tells the doctor to prescribe it to them. When this occurs the doctor is no longer looking out for the best interest of the patient and merely suffices their preconceived need. The affected ones in these scenarios are mostly the patients. They are being prescribed drugs that are not necessarily the best option for them, and have potentially devastating side effects. Doctors are affected as well; they are left with the choice to overlook the health concerns of the patients in order to serve them. The drug companies are spending lots of money to persuade the doctors to push their drugs. Companies like Merck & Co and Pfizer go directly to the doctor’s offices, pay them incentives, and even pay for trips to educational seminars. Therefore, doctors may also be brainwashed into becoming biased and prescribing medication...

References: Cooper, D., & Schindler, P. (2011). Business Research Methods (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.
Gardiner, H. (2009, Sep 03). Pfizer to pay $2.3 billion to settle inquiry over marketing. New York Times (1923-Current File). Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1030675197?accountid=458
Hilts, P. J., & Sheryl, G. S. (1999, May 14). Duke university 's research 'unethical '. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/387089680?accountid=458
Verschoor, C. C. (2006). Pharma Industry Has Many Ethics Issues. Strategic Finance, 87(8), 16-19
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