Ethics is a core value that enables humans to observe high moral standards in all their
dealings. It helps organizations to understand their responsibilities to help it relate with
customers. Merck had a tough decision to make regarding the drug. The decision would
either save lives or lead to their death. The decision made could not fulfil both the economic
purpose and ethical purpose. It would only satisfy one of them. Merck was tasked with the
responsibility of ensuring that one
ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT OF MERCK’S DECISION
As a company, it was their responsibility to take all possible measures to reduce suffering.
Merck had a role in ensuring that all the research they conduct was ethical and was
acceptable by moral laws. Ethically, they had a responsibility to provide the drugs to the
marginalized community. As a company they had their own bunch of principles that
governed them. They dedicate their time to make human life better. They also aim to stand by
the highest code of conduct and honour. ‘‘Our Values and Standards’’, (pp. 1-40) indicates
that Merck emphasizes a code of conduct, aligning with ethical and philanthropic
responsibilities and core values.
The company carries out their analysis and ventures to boost the health of humans. It has a
responsibility to improving the life of humans and by giving out the drug it was fulfilling
their commitment. The company is expected to do anything in its power to reduce the
suffering of humans. They should use all their capabilities to make sure they achieve their
goal of saving humankind. Madhavan (2009), Merck’s said that they should always
remember that the drugs are for the society and not the returns
In a case where the drug failed after millions had been used to manufacture it, the company
would be able to defend itself because it was done in an effort to make human life better. The
intention for its manufacturing would curb any outcome. The company’s intention would
have been sincere and meant to save mankind hence no bad reputation would accompany it.
People would be proud because the company put effort in trying to save life.
Merck had the information that a large population was suffering from the disease. They also
knew majority of those people lacked the funds to purchase the drug. With this information at
their disposal, they had an ethical commitment to ensure they provide the drug. Lack of
providing them with the drug would lead to deaths of thousands or millions of people. This
would go against the company’s virtues and values. It would also paint a bad picture of the
company to the public.
The public has an expectation that if a situation arises, companies should be able to rise up to
the challenge. Research has proven that the decision helped the public due to reduction in the
disease. Waters and Rehwinkel and Burnham, (2004) they should be able to help the people
voluntary without expecting returns. By providing the drug to the community in need, Merck
was giving back. The people suffering from River blindness were vulnerable and were in dire
need of help. It was their role to stretch out a hand to them and help. According to the
stakeholder’s theory, everyone is involved in the success of a company. All should be put
into consideration while making decisions. Silverman, (2011) states that the reporting of
pharmaceutical companies’ involvement in legal cases made the matter more severe.
ARGUMENTS OPPOSING THE MERCK’S DECISION
The company does not have ethical responsibility to give out the drug. If the company gives
out the drug without charges, it is going against its economic responsibility. According to the
shareholder theory, the main responsibility of an organization is to maximize profits. The
business should ensure the returns to the shareholders. As a company it has certain economic
commitments. It ought to produce drugs and sell them to earn a profit. The cost of producing
drugs is high. If it provides it for free it will be going at a loss. Investors would go at a loss
and this is not ethical as not all investors are millionaires. Others, are average people who
were planning to use the profits to help themselves. Giving the drug for free is not right as
Merck has a commitment to their investors to behave in their best interest.
If they provided the drug they would earn nothing. Giving out the drug for free would mean
no profits. This means there will be no money to invest in other drugs needed by the public.
Some diseases lacked antibiotics and people relied on this companies to research to find a
cure. It would be unethical for Merck to give out the drug for free as they would not be
considering all the other diseases which were also killing people. It would be unfair to the
people suffering from those illnesses.
Giving out this dug without cost meant loss for the company. When the company does not
profit, there is shortage of money. This leads to cutting of people’s salary. This would be
unethical to those people whose family depend on those salaries to survive. Loss of jobs
would lead to people suffering as they were surviving on those jobs. This would not be right
to them as they also have their own responsibilities.
THE SUPPORT OF ERADICATION OF ONCHOCERCIASIS IS NORMATIVE
The normative approach is based on the fact that everyone has a purpose. It implies that
everyone wants to feel like they belong. Everyone wants to achieve success. In this approach
everyone is important and valued. Here, everyone has their own responsibility.
Onchocerciasis affected a lot of people hence the decision to eradicate it by giving drugs for
free made them feel like they are valued by the company. By doing this, the company has
stepped up to fulfil its responsibility of ensuring that humanity is safe.
According to the stakeholder’s theory, businesses should not worry about lost profit if they
are fulfilling their moral and ethical obligations. The theory suggests that everyone
contributes to the stakeholders. This includes the employees, the clients, the shareholders and
many more. When Merck gave out the drug they were doing what was ethical to their clients
who contribute to the stakeholders. The disease had affected millions of people who were
poor hence could not afford the treatment. Hence, they reached out to the marginalized. This
shows that Merck considered everyone as important, not only themselves but the public. This
contrasts Friedman, (1970) that corporate social responsibility curbing is meant to lead to
increase in profits.
The production of the drug together with the trials it had to undergo would be a costly
investment. This means that the drug would have to be sold at a very high price in order for it
to produce profits. At a high cost, the poor people would not be able to afford the drug.
Giving out the drug for free was a social responsibility for the company. As the poor also
belong to the stakeholders they were considered. The company had to put their needs in front
as they from a big part of the stakeholders.
The decision made by Merck would have adverse effects on both the returns and investments.
The main goal of a company is profits. By giving out the drug for free, the company was
losing profits and investors. However, when the public sees the good that the drug is
successful and that it has been of help to clients, the company’s reputation will flourish. This
would attract other investors as they would love to invest in a company that takes corporate
social responsibility seriously. Porter, Kramer (2006) indicates that in addition to upgrading
the brand reputation all over the world and drawing and retaining employees and investors,
there are valuable financial advantages in achieving the higher social standards.
For corporate social responsibility, it entails with being a good citizen. Merck Company had
the responsibility to formulate solutions to the health challenges that were occurring. As
responsible citizens, they had a role to play during the crisis. Their response to the crisis
reflects about their values. As a company that had ethical values, they had to provide the drug
to fulfil their responsibility. Horton, (2004) indicates that Merck’s corporate social agenda
moves from alleviating harm to strengthening strategic philanthropy tied with a social issue.
Access to health as a value to the Merck had to be accomplished. Considering the amount of
money the drug would have cost, the company had a social commitment to step up to the
challenge. The poor were also part of the shareholders. They formed part of the customers.
Stepping up to save their lives shows how they are appreciated. They show them that they
also contribute to the family of stakeholders. It was correct for the company to distribute the
drugs to show them their importance. Conroy, (2007) Assuming the corporate social
responsibilities is too expensive.
As a company giving out the drugs showed how they abided by ethics. In ethics, one is
expected to do what is just and right. It should also be fair. The only way the company would
have achieved this is by ensuring they do what is right. In the situation they had to give out
the drug as the majority of those affected were the poor who could not afford the medication.
They did what was just. They were fair to the poor population.
The company strived to meet the customers need and satisfaction. The clients needed the
drugs even though they had no financial capability to purchase the drug. Therefore, the
company gave out the drugs without cost to meet the customers need. It was their social
responsibility to make sure that customers are satisfied regardless of the situation.
The company had a reputation. How the company responded to the situation had a big impact
on their reputation. It could either tarnish it completely or build it up. The decision to give out
the drugs made the reputation of the company go up. The public so its kindness in extending
a hand to the poor. Good reputation enables a company to flourish more as they have the
public’s confidence. This is a key aspect in the stakeholder’s theory as customers also form
part the stakeholders and looking after their needs is very crucial.
Giving out the drug showed good leadership. It demonstrated how the company’s
management was. It showed the public that their leaders were humane and could heed to the
cries of the public. A company with good leadership always flourishes. This act also showed
the employees that they were under the right leaders. Leaders who when confronted by a
crisis, could step up and overcome it despite the challenges. The leadership demonstrated
good leadership skills that a company should have in order to continue growing. They
showed they are capable and most of all, they are just and fair to everyone.
As seen, profit is usually the main aim of companies. However, in certain situations
companies have to see beyond profit making. They have to look at their moral and ethical
responsibility both to themselves and the public. Companies should aim to do what is morally
right even if it will cost them. It is their social responsibility to ensure that they fulfil their
obligations to the public. In times of crisis, they should be able to step up and look beyond
what they would gain. Rather, they should focus on what they can give.
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Madhavan, K. S. (2009) The secret of success of great visionary companies.
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Porter, M., Kramer, M. (2006). Strategy and Society: the Link between Competitive
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Waters, H. R., Rehwinkel, J. A, and Burnham, G. (2004). Economic evaluation of Mectizan
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