Ethics matter in every industry, but pharmaceutical ethics are critical for ensuring consumers get the life-saving medications they need. However, dangerous ethical issues need to be addressed in this industry.
While not every pharmaceutical employee is unethical, ethical employees do have the power to change this industry for the better. This improves big pharma’s reputation and helps improve the lives of customers.
1. False Marketing
Pharmaceutical marketing is often filled with big promises, but the reality doesn’t always match up. What’s marketed as a safer alternative to current medications on the market may instead have far more side effects. Or, it’s promised to be cost-effective and covered by insurers, only for consumers to find out major insurers only pay a little on it, leaving them to foot a large bill instead.
2. Hiding Side Effects
Not surprisingly, false marketing tends to stem from one of the more dangerous pharmaceutical ethics issues – hiding side effects. Even if it’s a rare side effect, consumers still have the right to know. However, if the side effects are made known, the drug might never be approved for use. This can lead to major cover-ups. While these companies know they’ll likely be sued later on, the profits they make in the meantime are still worth far more than they’ll have to pay back to consumers.
3. Increasing Pricing
Many people don’t take the life-saving medications they need simply because they can’t afford them. For instance, in 2016, Mylan Laboratories increased the cost of EpiPens from $100 to over $600 for a set. The increase was attributed to new research to improve the product and increasing demand. However, the product was completely unchanged. It was all about profit, which left many patients at risk of severe allergic reactions.
Price gouging is all too common in the pharmaceutical industry. This is why a single pill can cost hundreds of dollars, when the cost to make it may only be a few dollars at most. Investing in research is the normal excuse, yet exorbitant pricing just means the people who need the medications most will never have access to it, even with good insurance.
4. Bribing Medical Professionals
Pharmaceutical ethics don’t just stop at the pharmaceutical industry. They also spill over into the doctors who treat and prescribe medications. It’s not unusual, though unethical, for pharmaceutical companies to offer kickbacks to medical professionals and hospitals that prioritize their drug over others, even if it’s not always the best option for patients.
5. Violating Trial Results
Much like hiding side effects, toying with trial results to push drug approval through faster is highly unethical and dangerous. Without proper trial results, patients are at high risk of side effects and even death. However, it all comes down to profits over people.
How Ethics Hotlines Help
Pharmaceutical ethics don’t have to be so terrible. Instead, with an ethics hotline, employees gain the power to report unethical behavior at all levels of a company. A team can investigate and even pass on reports to the correct authorities to improve the entire industry and the healthcare of millions of people.