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All primary and secondary stakeholders of Big Pharma are mainly motivated by the enormous profits in this industry. Primary stakeholders in Big Pharma include investors, companies’ boards of directors, and shareholders. The scope of these stakeholders stretches to include other major industries such as oil companies, agri-chem giants, and governments. The money that is invested in Big Pharma comes from the global financial industry that is also at the helm of Fortune 500 companies. Secondary stakeholders in Big Pharma include lobbyists and politicians (Greider 34). Most of the major drug companies spend a substantial amount of money in a bid to influence government policies. Doctors and other medical practitioners are also secondary stakeholders in Big Pharma.
Pharmaceutical companies’ main economic responsibility is to their owners and financiers. At the end of the day, these companies are expected to turn a profit margin, and this is what determines their survival (Hirsch 607). On the other hand, Big Pharma is legally obligated to conform to a set of guidelines that are mostly influenced by lawmakers and lobbyists. These rules are mainly laid out in the constitution and policed by bodies such as the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). The companies’ main ethical responsibility is to the drug users, who can potentially be harmed by the drugs.
These videos address various ethical issues but most of these fall under advertising. First, advertising influences potential drug consumers in a biased manner. For example, most pharmaceutical adverts suggest that only doctors should suggest drugs to users after they have already influenced the customer’s mentality (Rod, Ashill, and Carruthers 175). Another ethical issue that is covered in the videos involves how companies develop ‘copies’ of existing drugs and then market them as if they are new. This practice creates unnecessary competition in the industry whereby the consumer ends up being the loser. It would be prudent for relevant authorities to find out the advantages of new drugs over existing ones before they are introduced to the market.
Companies use various marketing tactics to edge out their competition, some of which are subtle, while others are direct. First, drug companies have focused their attention on doctors and medical students by offering them branded gifts and other tangible concessions. Another tactic involves associating new drugs with prior brands in a bind to influence customers, like in the case ofthe new purple pill’ (Big Pharma Big Bucks Exposure 1). Another tactic involves explicitly contravening existing guidelines in the hope that by the time the advertisements are pulled off, they will have already influenced the consumers’ psyche.
Most of these marketing tactics are unjustified because they tend to prioritize profiteering interests over existing ethics. The companies justify their tactics by claiming that the advertisements are for information purposes. Furthermore, the companies’ influence on doctors is manipulated to fulfill the needs of Big Pharma (Connors 243). Advertising tactics that only give half of the facts are not justifiable because drugs are not mere consumables.
In the beginning, the use of big money for research by pharmaceutical companies was justified. However, in the course of history, this noble intention was changed to align with the need for companies to make a profit (Resnik 13). Even though companies are still justifying big spending by claiming that it is an honorable objective, profit margins matter the most. It is important to compare drug-making regimes in various regions in a bid to seek the most effective manner of handling research and development. Consequently, it becomes obvious that the ends do not justify the means because Big Pharma regimes can be amended.
“Big Pharma Big Bucks Exposure”, Youtube, Web.
Connors, Amanda. “Big Bad Pharma: An Ethical Analysis of Physician-directed and Consumer-directed Marketing Tactics.” Albion Law Review, vol. 73, no. 1, 2009, pp. 243-244.
Greider, Katharine. The Big Fix: How the Pharmaceutical Industry Rips off American Consumers. Public Affairs, 2008.
Hirsch, Martin. “Side Effects of Corporate Greed: Pharmaceutical Companies Need a Dose of Corporate Social Responsibility.” Science & Technology, vol. 9, no. 1, 2008, pp. 607-608.
Resnik, David. “Developing Drugs for the Developing World: An Economic, Legal, Moral, and Political Dilemma.” Developing World Bioethics, vol. 1, no. 1, 2001, pp. 11-32.
Rod, Michel, Nicholas Ashill, and Janet Carruthers. “Pharmaceutical Marketing Return-on-investment: A European Perspective.” International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing, vol. 1, no. 2, 2007, pp. 174-189.