An ethical dilemma is considered a complex phenomenon involving an obvious mental clash among different moral courses of action, in which case if one is observed it will lead to ignoring the other. In this case, Compound Z is shown to be a very important drug for effectively treating fatal maladies. However, this compound is scarce to the people of Botswana and available to other people, especially in the developing world. Scarcity at this point is not due to the limited production of the drug. The cost of Compound Z is the biggest barrier to its equal distribution to people who need it. Compound Z is essential for preservation of life, yet it is unobtainable to some people. Megabucks Pharmaceuticals is the company that developed the drug and have patented it for the next seventeen years. This means that no other company can produce it, yet there is a way in which a cheaper compound can be developed and made accessible to people who would have otherwise accessed it. The big ethical dilemma faced by Megabucks Pharmaceuticals is whether to prevent the production of Compound Z, as they have invested a lot of money in its developing. At the same time, it is their main source of revenue. Megabucks may do this and keep making a lot of money from the people who can afford it, while the ones who cannot afford it lose their lives. They also have the option of allowing the production of a generic product by Hopeday Industries and save many lives, as people in Botswana will have an access to it.
Botswana in this case represents the underdeveloped countries in Africa that are threatened by epidemics, such as HIV/AIDS. This poses a threat to the development in Africa. Diseases like this have reversed economic, political, and social gain. The scope and spread of the epidemics is unprecedented. A lack of life prolonging drugs threatens with the loss of a young generation of productive and energetic people. If no intervention is made, Africa’s future is at a great risk of failure .The devastating effects of these epidemics have already been seen. There is a sharp increase in the number of orphans; life expectancy is falling; and social amenities like schools, hospitals, and businesses are in a deplorable state.
Megabucks represents the numerous pharmaceutical companies that have used millions of dollars to invent and introduce lifesaving drugs that treat stubborn infections. The cost of producing these drugs is high and, in order to keep their companies in business, they have to price their products in such a way that they get good returns. Although patenting is an expensive and tedious process, it is a way of ensuring that they remain in business...
There are different courses of action that Megabucks could undertake. First, they could let a generic version of Compound Z be produced by another company. Second, they could produce the generic product and sell it to the charity group working in Botswana. Third, they could employ parallel importation, whereby Compound Z is sold at a reduced price to countries like Botswana.
Parallel importation is a win situation for the pharmaceutical company as this reduces prices but ensures that the production of the drug is still in their hands. They could also donate to these countries as part of corporate social responsibility. Megabucks could also generate the generic drug and sell it to the charity and this provides a win-win situation for the company and also for the patients back in Botswana. Allowing generic production of product Z by other companies would have detrimental effect on Megabucks, but would greatly serve the people of Botswana. However, allowing the generic version of Compound Z raises serious concerns of counterfeits in developing countries, as most of them lack financial, technical, and human resources required for monitoring quality drug production and distribution.
Overall, reducing the price of Compound Z does not mean that most people in Botswana will have access to it. Most of these people are poor and cannot afford basic drugs like painkillers. This takes us back to the ethical dilemma of giving them the free generic drug at the cost of losing revenue for the inventor companies.
If I were to be presented with such a dilemma, I would come up with a decision based on deontological ethics. I believe it would be my duty as Vice president of Megabucks to protect the interests of the company. I would not allow the production of Compound Z, as this would bring our revenues down and probably most people would lose their jobs. This would also mean that inventions would not be rewarded, as other people will be ready to take it up and cash on it. World leaders should come up with ways of providing medication to the needy without interfering with pharmaceutical companies. This way we would ensure that human dignity is upheld and all people would have access to good health care, regardless of their social status.
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