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Unethical Business Research in Pharmaceutics: Pfizer

Ethical research practices bear exceptionally high significance in bioethics since the products developed within the pharmaceutical industry will define the efficacy of managing public health issues. Thus, ethical misconduct may become a matter of life and death in some cases. The case of Pfizer can be deemed as a stellar example of unethical business research conducted in the pharmaceutical context (Bitter et al., 2020). By testing its new drug before receiving the required ethical approval, the organization put multiple lives of its research recruits in jeopardy.

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In business research, especially in the pharmaceutical field, ensuring that the research process occurs in an unbiased and objective manner is central to the future well-being of patients purchasing the proposed medication. However, according to the article by Heinemans et al. (2017), in the 2010s, Pfizer sponsored a clinical trial in Nigeria, thus obscuring the actual research results and creating breeding grounds for suspicion around its newly developed drug. The described change to the research design was rightfully regarded as highly controversial and unethical since it implied that possible side effects and other negative outcomes of consuming the medication tested in Nigeria would have been overlooked during the clinical trial.

The case of Pfizer indicates that closer attention needs to be paid to the research design and especially compliance with foundational principles of ethical business research when it comes to testing medications, clinical interventions, or any other solutions to public health issues. Otherwise, the lives of patients that are deemed as the target audience for the tested medicine or intervention are put in massive danger. Therefore, the significance of complying with the primary standards of business ethics, particularly, adherence to the principles of nonmaleficence, is vital for the well-being of target audiences.

References

Bitter, C. C., Ngabirano, A. A., Simon, E., & Taylor, D. M. (2020). Principles of research ethics: A research primer for low-and middle-income countries. African Journal of Emergency Medicine, 1-5. Web.

Heinemans, P., Schipper, I., & Durisch, P. (2017). Transnational pharmaceutical companies’ clinical drug trials in Egypt: ethical questions in a challenging context. Dirty Profits, 5, 47-9.

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