The legal landscape in corporate governance has gone through a significant change in the 21st century with ethics being at the center of significant controversies. According to Zimmerli, Holzinger, and Richter (2007), Corporate are obligated to have legal personalities that are necessary to perform their duties as specified by prevailing legislations, customs as well as traditions that define the image of the company. Over the last decade and a half business have been developing their own administrative commissions that aid in reconciling corporate obligations and ethical dilemmas. The reason behind this is the fact that numerous companies have found their heads facing time in prison as well as having their images tainted. By using the Turing Pharmaceuticals sage, this paper gives an in-depth comprehension of ethics and how corporate entities continue to violet set legislation to make high profits.
More often than not, when the issue of ethics is brought up in the corporate field the first modern case that comes to mind is the Enron saga. The Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) during the turn of the century in 2001 announced that it was carrying out an investigation on Enron after a series of accounting malpractice incidences had been identified (Solomon, 2007). Consequently, after the investigation results investor confidence went down, reducing the company’s credit rating subsequently causing the business to close shop a process that saw numerous individuals lose billions in the process. From the aftermath the CEO of the company and other high-ranking staff were charged and imprisoned based on unethically performing their duties. Despite the consequences faced by these individuals modern corporate entities continue to perform audacious profit making moves that remind the public of the Enron sage with the most recent being the Turing Pharmaceuticals saga.
The drug Daraprim developed in the 1950s, which is used to boost the immune systems of patients suffering from HIV and AIDS was recently acquired by Turing Pharmaceuticals. Soon after the price of this drug was inflated by 5000%, consequently sending the price from $13.50 to $750 a tablet. Daraprim in its class of drugs does not have a close generic rival ad is widely distributed and prescribed throughout the United States. Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli knew that the drug was lifesaving and intentionally chose profits over ethics. As stated by Thomas Pogge, pharmaceutical are not supposed to be conceived as sellers of normal market goods, considering the type of commodities they distribute are necessary for the health as well as the well-being of the community not like other businesses (Jaggar, 2010).
It should be noted that a breach of ethical standards does not necessarily suggest or constitutes to an illegal practice. However, it when an unethical act is directed to a move that is unlawful it can be used in a court of law as “cause”. In this particular case, the issue is the increase in prices of a commodity that is highly significant in the medical field a factor that is not illegal. Pharmaceutical companies such as Turing Pharmaceuticals like any other company are set up to make profits and the inflation of prices is one of the ways to increase the profits. Nonetheless, the absurd increase in necessity drugs would constitute to the intervention of the FDA similar to this case and the intervention revealed the breach of law that has led to the arrest of company CEO Martin Shkreli.
When the Martin Shkreli increased the prices of Daraprim the sales of the drug dropped from 25,500 in August to 600 tablets in December; however, a closer look at the numbers suggest that the August sales were 337,500 dollars in comparison to December which were 450,000 dollars showing an increase in profits. With prior knowledge of the securities exchange Mr. Shkreli expected to drive share prices higher as based on increased profits a factor that is illegal if there is clear show that the price increase was based on increasing share prices. It should be noted that for any investor who purchased the share of the company or already had the share on his or her portfolio losses were inevitable consequently suggesting securities fraud charges.
Martin Shkreli was arrested when it was realized that he had intentionally done a similar move when one of the companies he represents Retrophin Pharmaceuticals were placed in a legal battle with its investors for similar reasons as Turing Pharmaceuticals. The Turing Pharmaceuticals case of increasing drug prices was later used in court by the FDA as well as the SEC to show that the CEO was planning on performing fraudulent actions in addition to other charges placed on him.
In summary, corporate ethics suggest a company should operate within the limits it has been provided with by the law. Despite the fact that the corporate environment has changed since the turn of the century, it is significant for any company to keep their practices ethical and legal or face legislative consequences. Turing Pharmaceuticals move to increase prices of Daraprim were not illegal though due to the fact that the CEO was trying to drive the company’s share prices high he was convicted of fraudulent charges.
Jaggar, A. M. (2010). Thomas Pogge and his critics. Cambridge: Polity.
Solomon, J. (2007). Corporate governance and accountability. Chichester [u.a.: Wiley.
Zimmerli, W. C., Holzinger, M., & Richter, K. (2007). Corporate Ethics and Corporate Governance. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.