River Blindess Merck
Business and Management
Submitted By kjensen31
River blindness is a disease that mostly affects people living in remote areas near river banks in tropical regions of Africa and Latin America. The disease is caused by a parasitic worm that travels through a black fly that breeds in the rivers of these areas. The black fly bites individuals and worms grow inside of the affected persons skin cause the skin to show unsightly nodules. After the birth of a few worms these worms then multiply inside the affected person and cause intense pain.
The initial defense against was pesticides, but the flies built an immunity to the pesticides. In many areas people were forced to leave their areas, but many of them returned because the found it was hard to survive in more distant areas.
In 1978 Dr. Campbell made the discovery of ivermectin, a new ant parasitic compound under investigation for use in animals. Campbell felt that ivermectin was the answer to the disease river blindness that plagued millions in the Third World. In order to find out if Campbell's hypothesis held true, Merck would have to spend millions of dollars to develop the right strain for human use, conduct the field trials in the most remote parts of the world.
Even if these efforts produced an effective and safe drug, virtually none of those afflicted with river blindness could afford to buy it. Dr. Ray Vagelos, originally a university researcher but by then a Merck executive, was faced with decision of investing in research for a drug that, even it was successful, it might never pay for itself. Many potential drugs offered little chance of financial gain.
I believe that Merck and Dr. Vagelos have the moral obligation to proceed with the development of Ivermectin, because it would save millions of people. Adam Locke states that most decisions are made out of self- interest, which is very true. In this case a decision out of self -interest can end up having a widespread effect for the greater good. Merck and Dry Vagelos could have made the decision based on the fact that it would make the firm look good, and the fact that Dr. .Vagelos, and his research team would be given praise for this decision. There might be many downsides to releasing this product, such as no profit being made, but at the end of the day this could open up the door for more business opportunities .Other third world countries, or government agencies will see the deed that has been done and will approach them to do business in the future. Individuals are more likely to do business with a firm who believes in being honest and trustworthy rather being dishonest simply to make a profit. In business you always have to think long term, short term gain can cause long term pain.
In business ethics there will always be a conflict between morals, and profits, I believe that every firm should have rules of ethics that stem from their mission statement, and their vision. The reputation of a company in theory is more important than the profit, because without a reputation there is no profit.