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CSR: Ethical Dilemma of Pharma Companies

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In today’s world, where CSR and corporate ethics is gaining a lot of importance, a company is expected to follow certain ethical standards in order to sustain. The marketers insist on placing the benefit to the consumers first to ensure maximum satisfaction and hence, retain the customers. However, despite the people seeking ethically responsible businesses, there is one consumer industry which is failing heavily to maintain that – the Pharmaceutical Industry.

The main job of a pharma company is to supply drugs to the market which are safe to consume and would provide relief against various ailments and conditions. However, these private companies who are profit-minded, lose customers if they manage to deliver such safe medicine which cures a person completely of their disease. As a result, the pharma companies lose sight of the purpose of its existence, disregard human safety in return for profit.

In 2010, the drug manufacturing company Boehringer Ingelheim released its FDA-approved blood thinner Pradaxa to market. The drug was advertised as a better alternative to other blood thinners, which did not require any dietary restrictions. This was a big selling point for the drug, but it was also a major safety hazard for patients. For example, in the case of Pradaxa’s competitor, Coumadin (warfarin), patients had to restrict the amount of vitamin K in their diet as it is a natural antidote to the effects of the blood thinner. However, if a patient gets injured and needs an antidote to clot their wound, ingesting vitamin K would do the trick. Pradaxa, however, was prescribed and given to patients without a natural or synthetic antidote available. This lack of concern for patient safety led to over a thousand cases of serious bleeding, other adverse side effects and numerous fatalities.

In 2016, another pharma company called Mylan Laboratories raised the price of their EpiPens by nearly 600% in less than a decade. The company’s CEO justified the rise by claiming that the profit made goes right back into research and development along with product marketing. The problem is, the drug has been used to treat allergic reactions for decades. This caused a life-saving drug to be unaffordable for many patients.

Putting corporate self-interests ahead of consumer interests is not new for business. However, this means, we are in an era that human species are enemy to themselves along with nature and the environment. There is no justification for this deviousness. Ethical practice is not a good deed; it is a responsibility that every company needs to follow.

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Regards,
The CSR Journal Team

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