Pharmaceutical Industry Essay Sample
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Influence of Technology in Ethical and Social Contexts
The evolution of technology has happened at an incredible pace, particularly post the World War II. The origin of modern day technologies can be traced back to the era of industrialization, during which when many of the key inventions where made like electricity, automobiles (cars, airplanes), communication technologies (telegraph, radio, television), nuclear technology etc. Since then, over the period of last century, the technology has quickly evolved to the shape that we see today and being a part of our day to day life. Perhaps the most important of all these would be the invention of internet and the advancements made in the area of telecommunications. There is no doubt over the fact that these technologies have made our lives much easier in the way of faster communication, travel, advancements in medicine and treatment, meeting our energy requirements, saving of time and effort etc. But is the picture all hunky dory as we paint it? Are these technologies overpowering our ability to think logically? Are they helping in bonding our family and society? What are the new age ethical dilemmas that we are facing due to the presence of technology in our daily lives? This article tries to analyze the influence of various technologies in the ethical and social contexts and how it is impacting or affecting our lives.
This article will focus on five major areas of technology and their influence on the mankind from a social and ethical perspective. The focus areas include pharmaceutical and communication technologies and the product electronic cigarettes.
There is an intense competition among the global pharmaceutical companies to launch new products in the market. Food and Drug Administration of the US, which is the regulatory body for the pharmaceutical and medical devices industries, its European counterpart, European Medicines Agency (EMA) and other regulatory bodies across the world have put stringent norm for the drug development process. The pharmaceutical companies have to take the drug development process through a series of stages which includes research and clinical tests before the drug is certified and ready to hit the market. This entire process takes many years and billions of dollars and is estimated that large pharmaceutical companies working on drug development spend around $ 5 billion per new medicine. Cost of the drug development is directly proportional to the time for the drug to hit the market.
Clinical trial in humans is one area where many pharmaceutical companies have resorted to unethical practices, in an attempt to expedite their new drug discoveries. This is more pronounced in developing or under developed countries where the regulations are not as stringent as that of FDA or EMA or even in some cases it does not exist at all. There have been many instances in the past where the pharmaceutical companies have been sued for unethical practices in the clinical trials case. Common malpractices include colluding with the hospitals and doctors to administer the drug in the development stage to poor, illiterate and innocent people without their knowledge or taking consent from them or their relatives, offering money to the patients to become the guinea pig and even commissioning the doctors to prescribe their products to their patients. Some of the notable societal impacts include deaths during clinical trials in India conducted by global pharmaceutical firms, death of babies in Argentina over vaccine trials by GSK , Nigerians getting compensated by Pfizer for the death of children during meningitis drug trial etc. All these point out to the unethical use of technology on the society.
Communication Technology will probably be the one area where the growth has been most explosive. From the humble telegraph and telephone in the beginning of the 20th century to 4G speed, social media, telepathy and concepts such as internet of things, the growth has been just mind boggling. With the deep penetration of the internet, communication technology has made inroads even into the remotest areas of the world.
These advancements have made our lives much easier, not many will disagree to this fact. It has grasped us so much so that a black out will be unthinkable for many. A few of the advantages include the higher speed of communication with any part of the globe, reduced cost in terms of cut in travel expenses enabled by the latest video conferencing facilities, greater availability for business houses to conduct business in multiple time zones, availability of latest information at your fingertips, advancements in the area of telemedicine which enables the doctor to treat his patient who is located thousands of kilometers away at a remote location, etc.
But along with this it is important that one should consider the influence of technology on ethical and social contexts. The technology is being misused by many affecting the social fabric of a society or a country. Many unethical practices happen like stealing of information, spreading of false propaganda utilizing the social media platforms, easy availability of offensive materials like pornography etc. It has a host of negative impacts on the society as well. Some of the prominent examples include reduced interaction among family members as everyone in the family is busy with their personal communication devices, reduced personal communication, misuse of the social media platforms taking advantage of the anonymity that they provides, lack of social interaction skills, poor emotional quotient etc. All of these have the potential to destroy individuals, families and societies.
Yet another invention that was made a noble intention, but is now facing flak due to the increased misuse and negative impact on the society is the electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes. There is a growing awareness among the public on the ill effects of cigarette smoking. More than the addiction to nicotine, it is the tobacco, tar, carcinogens and numerous other chemicals that actually make the cigarette smoking a dangerous proposition.
One of the safer alternatives developed, which is the e-cigarettes has got many advantages when compared to the conventional cigarettes. That includes zero presence or tobacco, tar and other cancer causing toxins and passive smoking risks. It also holds the advantage that it produces odorless smoke and produces zero ash.
But in this case as well, there are many ethical dilemmas and societal impacts. The most important among them is the argument that e-cigarettes encourage even the non-smokers also to start smoking or vaping. This is a cause for high concern as it has been found that even school and college going youth are using it regularly. Yet another negative impact is that this product is not approved by FDA as the harmful effects, if any, of this product are not yet analyzed completely.
Thus by analyzing these three areas, it can be concluded that every technology has made considerable impact on the society. It is a matter of concern that many of our wonderful inventions are misused unethically. Awareness should be created for utilizing the technology in the right manner to exploit its possibilities. It is high time that we learn to get mature and utilize the advancements made in the technology for the betterment of the society.
Biswas, Ranjita. IPS News. 5 November 2013. Website. 24 January 2015. <http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/11/over-2500-deaths-during-indian-clinical-trials/>.
Hellman, Susan Desmond. The Cost Of Creating A New Drug Now $5 Billion, Pushing Big Pharma To Change. 8 November 2013. Website. 24 January 2015. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2013/08/11/the-cost-of-inventing-a-new-drug-98-companies-ranked/>.
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