Good Example Of Ethical Issues And Corporate Responsibility In Pharmacare Essay
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Ethical Issues and Corporate Responsibility in PharmaCARE
PharmaCare: The Corporation and Its Stakeholders
When one thinks of pharmaceutical companies, they would most probably think of PharmaCARE. This is because PharmaCARE has been in the front line of companies that provide top quality medicine all around the world. This pharmaceutical company runs on the philosophy and personal slogan: “We CARE about YOUR health” (B.C. Ministry of Health, 2005). This slogan is one of the reasons that the company is seen by many people around the globe as one of the highest quality pharmaceutical companies there is. This slogan also sends out the message that the main priority of PharmaCARE is the health and well-being of people.
They are known for supposedly providing free or discounted drugs to people who are below the poverty line or are earning a minimum wage (B.C. Ministry of Health, 2005). They also provide various scholarships, educational programs, and healthcare, all done through the company’s charity foundation. Quite recently, PharmaCARE has decided to further widen their efforts for good cause by joining the green movement. This refers to the company’s new initiative of committing to the environment by implementing various environment-friendly activities. These include recycling, changing their packaging, and many more eco-friendly operations (B.C. Ministry of Health, 2005).
Unfortunately, PharmaCARE does seem to only be talking the talk but not walking the walk. The supposedly philanthropic and environment friendly company does not seem to be true to both its slogan and its image. This could certainly prove to be a huge problem for PharmaCARE stakeholders. These stakeholders are the individuals, groups of people, or organizations that have an interest, concern, or a role in the company (B.C. Ministry of Health, 2005). For PharmaCARE, their main stakeholders include their employees, their shareholders, and their customers. However, the company also has many less direct stakeholders such as the doctors, hospitals, patients, communities, wholesale distributors, private health insurance companies, physicians, and pharmacists (B.C. Ministry of Health, 2005). These are the organizations and the people who will be affected by everything that PharmaCARE does. If the pharmaceutical company is able to truly live out its slogan of caring for people’s health, then the stakeholders would certainly benefit from that. If PharmaCARE is also able to genuinely abide by its green initiatives, then the stakeholders would once again benefit from that. But in the case that the company fails to do both or either of those two things, then the stakeholders will consequently suffer.
Human Rights Issues
After World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust, the United Nations was founded and along with it, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nations, n.d.). These human rights are the rights inherent to all human beings, which mean that whatever a person’s gender, nationality, religion, color, social standing, or any other status may be, he or she is still definitely entitled to such rights. And in any situation, these human rights should be, without a doubt, respected and protected.
PharmaCARE is positing that they are upholding people’s rights to an adequate standard of living and medical care (B.C. Ministry of Health, 2005). However, they are violating more than one right in the way they run their operations in the African country of Colberia. The pharmaceutical company has a manufacturing facility in the said country and this is where they employ hundreds of Colberians in unjust conditions. First of all, the company is exploiting the low standard of living in Colberia in order to gain what they want and to earn more money. The Colberians are only being compensated with one dollar per day despite the extremely hard work that PharmaCARE requires them to do. This includes walking five miles, both going to and from the dangerous jungles of Colberia, all the while carrying extremely heavy baskets that weigh up to fifty pounds. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to just and favorable conditions of work (United Nations, n.d.). This includes being properly compensated for one’s work and not being forced to accomplish extremely inhumane hard work.
Unfortunately, the rights of the Colberian workers of PharmaCARE are not being protected. They continue to work in unfavorable conditions, being paid unjust wages, and living in huts with access to neither electricity nor water. All this is happening while the top executives of PharmaCARE are enjoying millions of dollars in profit and living in luxurious accommodations that are complete with pools, tennis courts, and other recreational avenues. This violation of the Colberians’ rights heavily contradicts the slogan of PharmaCARE that they care for people’s health. It also contradicts the company’s supposed efforts to support people below the poverty line. It seems as though the slogan and the philanthropic initiatives of PharmaCARE are all part of their marketing ploy in order to appear favorable to the people. Unfortunately, their operations in Colberia show a whole different thing. It reveals a whole other side of PharmaCARE—one that is hypocritical, unethical, and inhumane.
Recently, there has been an increasing trend of going green. This environment friendly initiative was brought about by the equally increasing destruction of mother earth. This is why more and more companies are implementing environment friendly activities and operations. They aim to help save the earth before it is too late. PharmaCARE is one of these companies. For their part, the pharmaceutical company has launched their initiative with the new slogan: “We CARE about YOUR world”. This initiative includes recycling their wastes, changing their packaging into more environment friendly materials, reducing their use of energy, and many more. This also includes strictly abiding by all the laws that have to do with environmental issues. One of these is the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act or CERCLA. CERCLA basically gives authority to the Environmental Protection Agency to respond to both potential and actual releases of hazardous materials that may endanger public health and the environment (EPA, n.d.).
Unfortunately, PharmaCARE itself has violated CERCLA in the past. The pharmaceutical company has indeed put both the public health and the environment in danger when they released to the public their manufactured drugs that were not yet approved by the Federal Drug Administration. To make things worse, several deaths were said to have been related to the drugs that PharmaCARE released. However, despite these reports, the company still continued to distribute the drugs (EPA, n.d.). In addition, PharmaCARE also contradicts their own green initiatives in, once again, their operations in Colberia. These operations have caused excessive damages to the environment of the said African country. Their activities have been gradually destroying their habitat, particularly the wild jungles of Colberia. And in addition to this, they are also threatening the lives of many endangered species of animals that are endemic to the country (EPA, n.d.).
According to utilitarianism, an act is considered moral if it causes the maximum amount of happiness (Mill, 2001). For the case of PharmaCARE and the indigenous people of Colberia, although the incredibly high amount of profit definitely brought happiness to the executives of the company, it also brought suffering to the people of Colberia. Having said that, the total number of Colberian employees, combined with their unjustly compensated beneficiaries, far outweigh the number of PharmaCARE executives. Because of this, the company is definitely committing an immoral act according to the theory of utilitarianism. On the other hand, deontology holds that an act is moral if it is done because of a person’s adherence to his or her duty (Kant, 2002). In the case of PharmaCARE, the company obviously failed to adhere to their duty of protecting the people’s interests, well-being, and health. As a pharmaceutical company with the duty of caring for people’s health, they instead put the safety and health of their workers at risk. Because of this, the theory of deontology dictates that PharmaCARE is committing an immoral act against their own workers.
Virtue ethics considers an act to be moral by basing it on the person or people doing the act (Aristotle, 2007). If the person or people did it out of a virtue such as love or selflessness, then the act is moral regardless of the actual outcome. But if the act was done out of a vice such as spite or selfishness then it is immoral. Because PharmaCARE’s actions regarding the Colberians were done purely to gain more profits, or in other words because of greed, then those are considered to be immoral. Meanwhile, the ethics of care considers an act to be moral if it is done as a response to the needs of a person who is in unfavorable conditions (Noddings, 1984). In this case, PharmaCARE failed to care for the Colberians and only responded to their own needs. In failing to properly meet the needs of the Colberian workers, PharmaCARE committed immoral and unjust acts. Personally, it can’t be denied that PharmaCARE truly did an immoral act. The reason for this is that they were not only acting to benefit simply themselves but also tried to make the public believe that they were genuinely committed to helping people. Pretending to be moral while doing something immoral simply makes the immoral act much worse.
Total Corporation: What Not to Do
Other than PharmaCARE, Total is another international company that is failing to adhere to their ethical and corporate responsibilities. Total is an integrated oil and gas company and they have been under a lot of scrutiny for multiple humanitarian and environmental issues. Just like PharmaCARE, Total has also been treating their workers unjustly. According to multiple reports and humanitarian activists, Total has been implementing forced labor on its operations in the country of Myanmar (Mai, 2010). Forced labor is a huge violation against the basic human right of being free to choose one’s employment. To make things worse, Total is also allegedly abusing their workers by exposing them to unsafe working conditions, particularly in the gas fields and construction camps (Mai, 2010).
In addition to this, Total is also known for conducting environmentally unsound practices. The corporation has already caused multiple oil spills throughout its history. Perhaps the worst case of all was in year 1999 when one of Total’s oil tankers called the Erika sunk off the coast of Brittany (Mai, 2010). The tanker was carrying over 30,000 tons of oil on board, all of which were released into the ocean, causing an inexplicable amount of damage and pollution to both the water and the aquatic life underneath.
Despite being two successful and well-known international companies, both Total and PharmaCARE have done things that violated human rights and environmental laws. Their violations may have been different in nature and in degree but it still doesn’t change the fact that the companies failed to take into consideration the consequences of their actions. Instead, they were too focused on one thing; and that is making money. While it is indeed the purpose of businesses to make profits, it still does not justify unethical behavior. It is important for every company to practice ethics and corporate responsibility in everything that they do.
This is particularly relevant for multi-national companies like Total and PharmaCARE because of two things. One is that being multi-national companies, they have extreme visibility which means that the entire world is aware of their brand. If they are reported as participating and conducting unethical activities, then their image would be tarnished all around the globe. The second and perhaps more significant reason as to why it is especially important for multi-national companies to be ethical is because they affect the lives of more people. Being multi-national means that they have operations and facilities in multiple countries. If they conduct unethical activities then they will be violating the rights of more people in various countries.
Aristotle. (2007). Nicomachean ethics. Malden: Blackwell.
B.C. Ministry of Health. (2005). PharmaCare 2005 annual performance report. Retrieved from http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/pharmacare/pdf/APROnline.pdf.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (n.d.). Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/lcla.html#Summary of CERCLA.
Kant, E. (2002). Groundwork for the metaphysics of morals. London: Yale University Press.
Mai, C. (2010). Broken ethics. Retrieved from http://www.earthrights.org/sites/default/files/documents/Broken-Ethics.pdf.
Mill, J.S. (2001). Utilitarianism. Ontario: Batoche Books Limited.
United Nations. (n.d.). The universal declaration of human rights. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/.
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