Do you feel that it is possible to develop a universal set of ethical standards for business?

Question 1: Do you feel that it is possible to develop a universal set of ethical standards for business, or do you believe that cultural differences make universal standards impractical and/or impossible? 

Ethics describe moral principles guiding the behaviors of individuals and groups. A universal set of ethical standards can help in defining the moral and immoral behaviors and relationships between different stakeholders. In the contemporary societies, business must adopt certain ethical standards to control their actions and related activities (Donaldson, 1996). For instance, business should avoid possible involvement in illegal or fraudulent payments or deals that may violate their values and cultural perceptions. Accordingly, I think that the development of a universal set of ethical standards is a feasible idea. In particular, businesses can operate based on certain universally applicable set of ethical principles. While the implementation of such universal set of ethical standards may not be practical or possible because of the differences in socio-cultural environments, businesses should adhere to the existing moral standards.

Question 2: Do corporations have a right and/or a responsibility to influence ethics in the countries in which they operate. Defend your position.

I believe that corporations are nor responsible for influencing ethical standards in their host countries. They should read and understand the moral and socio-cultural complexities in such countries before intervening in any ethical issue (Donaldson, 1996). However, when basic human values are at risk, the corporations can influence changes in the ethical beliefs and standards in such countries to stay relevant. For instance, when a company realizes that its corporate values and code of conduct contravene local ethical principles, they can involve local leadership in the development of proactive solutions. They should be discrete, creative, and respectful when approaching such pertinent issues to maintain positive relationships with their host nations. Corporations should emphasize on becoming ethical leaders as part of their corporate social responsibility (Myers & Bush, 2019). They should promote and safeguard basic human rights and dignity while maintaining their ethical reputation and positive public image. For example, a company can reject a particular project that may threaten the public safety of its employees and local population. While the decision to influence the implementation of such universally acceptable ethical behaviors may threaten the company’s operations, they should focus on their own ethical values and code of conduct (Donaldson, 1996). For instance, a Canadian company with high ethical standards and values should fight against child labor in societies that widely accept such unethical practices.

Part B: Pharmaceutical companies and the conflict over making HIV/AIDS drugs available in poor countries

Section 1: Introduction

Pharmaceutical multinational companies are responsible for ensure constant and efficient supply of HIV/AIDS drugs in the developing nations. Presently, HIV/AIDS is global problem affecting the progression of various socio-economic activities especially in the developing countries (Ho, 2017). The development of proactive solutions to this global menace should incorporate every government agency and relevant international institutions. Pharmaceutical organizations have the moral obligation towards combating the development and spread of HIV/AIDS-related infections in third world countries.

The drugs are effective in reducing the perceived risk of HIV/AIDS on the victims in local communities. The companies’ moral obligations towards the production and supply of the medications should be part of their corporate social responsibilities. Correspondingly, pharmaceutical companies are failing to act based on their sense of benevolence and societal obligation to safeguard the general health of the affected population. Currently, the primary concern of most of these companies is to generate maximum profit from their business activities. The entities are ignoring the inherent need for enhanced societal welfare towards taking care of the HIV/AIDS patients in the poor countries and this is not right (Ho, 2017). Extreme focus on corporate profits is not right because most of the citizens and government agencies in these poor countries do not have enough resources to purchase the HIV drugs. The pharmaceutical companies are ignoring calls to address the existing conflicts and facilitate the supply of enough drugs for the affected population.

Some of the important stakeholders involved in the production and supply of HIV/AIDS drugs include global financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF (International Monetary Fund). Other important agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and local government agencies are responsible for distributing the HIV/AIDS drugs. Most of these big pharmaceutical entities view HIV as a major business opportunity. They participate in the production and supply of test kits and other related medications. Companies such as the California-based Gilead Sciences are active players in the production of affordable medicines targeting patients in poorer counties (Luna, 2019). Other important players such as India’s Cipla, United Kingdom’s GlaxoSmith, and the U.S.’s Johnson & Johnson make cheap medicines to help poor countries with massive HIV burdens especially in the Sub-Saharan Africa. International advocacy organizations such as the Aids-Free World and other U.N-affiliated entities are facilitating the supply of HIV/AIDS to poor communities. However, despite these international efforts, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies want to continue benefiting from the lucrative HIV drug business.

Lastly, other companies such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Glaxo-Wellcome, and Pfizer are still controlling the manufacture and patent of important AIDS drugs. Developing countries do not have the international licenses to manufacture cheaper generic drugs to control the HIV scourge in their respective countries. Furthermore, the big pharmaceutical companies are concealing important advances made in the treatment of the life-threatening global health condition (Luna, 2019). The subsequent report aim to provide an objective analysis of the role and influence of pharmaceutical companies involved in the global production and supply of HIV drugs. Overall, despite the pressure from intense media coverage and public opinion, the identified stakeholders’ primary concern is still on corporate profit rather than on their corporate social responsibilities towards poor HVI/AIDS victims.

Section 2: Rationale

Various utility, rights and justice ethics are effective in evaluating the role of pharmaceutical companies in making HIV/AIDS drugs available in poor nations. Utility ethics assert that actions and behaviors are only right if they can promote maximum pleasure of happiness. The pharmaceutical companies have failed to act based on these utilitarian standards (Owen, 2018). They are failing to assess the net social benefits and social costs associated with their market objectives and goals. The companies are pursuing corporate profits rather than the efficient and prompt supply of HIV drugs to the poor victims. The firms are patenting the production and supply of the medications thus making them expensive. Notably, such actions are unethical based on the utility, right, and justice perspectives. For example, according to utility ethics, the HIV patients can only derive pleasure in the absence of pain caused by related infections. The patents limit the equitable supply of the drugs to the victims facilitating the development and progression of some of the associated HIV/AIDS symptoms. The desirable end for these pharmaceutical companies is act based on utility ethics towards satisfying the customers’ demands for good health. They should observe the patients’ dignity and respect towards their overall happiness.

Alternatively, rights ethics emphasizes on the fundamental normative rules that societies should pursue. While pharmaceutical companies should act based on right based ethical systems, they are ignoring the fact that health is a fundamental human right issue. The decision by the pharmaceutical companies to patent the production of HIV drugs implies that they do not understand that patients have the right to dignified life and the right to pursue maximum happiness. Their actions are ineffective in preserving these fundamental rights to life and wellness. Therefore, the pharmaceutical companies should determine whether the current conflict existing over the making and supply of HIV/AIDS drugs in poor countries promotes the victims’ right to life. They have very tough conditions and patents limiting the ability of the poor countries’ governments to produce and supply cheaper HIV drugs further violating the fundamental right to life. The pharmaceutical do not understand that the patients have a justifiable claim to good life and higher standards of life (Blouin-Genest & Erb, 2019). Overall, rights ethics assert that pharmaceutical companies should eliminate bureaucratic barriers that threaten the freedom and general wellbeing of the HIV victims. Governments should design appropriate laws and policy decisions to protect the human rights of their citizens infected with HIV/AIDS. For instance, pharmaceutical companies should allow local companies to produce relevant materials and medications to facilitate HIV testing processes, prevention, and treatment.

Lastly, justice ethics describe the moral obligations of companies to act based on fair arbitration of various claims. Justice ethics has a strong connection to the principles of fairness, entitlement, and equality. In this case, the production of HIV drugs to poor countries by pharmaceutical companies does not meet the justice standards. The companies do not respect morally acceptable laws or legal justice for the citizens (Blouin-Genest & Erb, 2019). Under legal justice framework, the primary concern is on equal treatment of individuals irrespective of their socio-economic conditions and backgrounds. Justice ethics promote equality in the provision of care to the same degree of respect in poor countries as that accorded to others in rich countries. The existing conflicts in the making and supply of the drugs in poor countries are not fair and equitable. Most of these multinational companies still have negative attitudes, prejudice, and discrimination in the supply of the HIV drugs to poor countries (Dawson et al., 2018). They are focusing solely on corporate profits and ignoring the healthcare status of the patients. The pharmaceuticals are not sensible and fair in approaching these pertinent issues while still encouraging patents and other related barriers in the production of HIV drugs. Overall, the companies should observe and understand the plights of the vulnerable and poor population in the developing nations who rely on cheaper HIV medications to sustain their lives.

Section 3: Impacts on my Family

The existing conflict involved in the making and supply of HIV drugs among pharmaceutical companies can have negative impacts on families. HIV/AIDS-related infections and symptoms could have adverse impacts on the relationships between my family members (Persad & Emanuel, 2017). The condition could result in various psychological, physical, and social impacts on the infected members of my family. For instance, the possibility of stigmatization in my family could hinder some members from revealing their HIV status. Additionally, the reduction in the supply of HIV medications could hinder the prevention and treatment of related conditions and infections. Some of the affected family members could start feeling isolated and frustrated encouraging them to develop suicidal thoughts.

My family’s low socioeconomic status implies that we are likely to have limited access to these relevant medications. If my pregnant cousin was HIV positive, she could risk mother-to-child transmission because of the unavailability of relevant drugs and medications. The conflicts among pharmaceutical companies further imply that the victims in my family will not have adequate access to effective treatment and HIV care processes (Persad & Emanuel, 2017). The inadequate supply of the HIV drugs could affect the normal childhood growth and development of the unborn child. The family members may also have to deal with the psychological trauma of taking care of an HIV patient member. Inadequate access to the drugs may result into possible death of the family members from related diseases. Notably, such unfortunate events imply significant shifts in our family structures, emotional, and behavioral challenges. Children in an HIV-affected family are also susceptible to the development of behavioral health disorders because of the possibility of societal stigma and discrimination.

Overall, lack of HIV drugs can cause life-threatening conditions that can have negative effects on the family members; quality of life and social relationships. The possibility of developing unwanted behavioral problems and poor health conditions may also cause financial stress in the family (Patterson, 2016). Therefore, pharmaceuticals should allow countries to streamline the production and supply of HIV drugs to eliminate some of these negative impacts o life-threatening conditions on my family members. Government policies towards the pharmaceuticals should focus on reducing the short and long-term physical, psychological, and social impacts of the inadequate supply of HIV drugs on different families (both children and adults).

Section 4: Impacts on my Community

Pharmaceutical companies and the conflict over making HIV/AIDS drugs can have negative impacts on the affected members of my community. For instance, lack of proper medications implies that the life-threatening symptoms may have negative physical and psychological impacts on the victims. Accordingly, the patients may feel isolated and stigmatized and this may reduce their positive engagements with other members of the society. Lack of proper medications may cause the patients to lose their sense of identity and self-worth (Patterson, 2016). They may reduce their ability to engage in meaningful socio-economic activities without these life-sustaining antiretroviral medications. Subsequently, they become unproductive and may ultimately lose their employment or income-generating activities.

In particular, lack of medications to mitigate some of the symptoms of HIV drugs may translate into poor performance and potential job loss. Therefore, the government should eliminate the existing conflict among pharmaceutical companies to reduce heighted stress levels and to treat the ongoing HIV symptoms. Stigma and discrimination against HIV patients is still prevalent in my community. Therefore, without proper supply of relevant medications, the victims are susceptible to an increase in social rejection and harassment (Patterson, 2016). Some of these individuals may contemplate suicide and other adverse actions from the individuals. Furthermore, when these HIV-related symptoms become evident because of lack of proper drugs, the patients may lose their privacy and confidentiality further contributing to their stress and psychological trauma.

Therefore, the Canadian government should develop appropriate responses to address possible reduction in the supply of HIV drugs in my community. For example, they can train behavioral health specialists and social support networks to address psychological trauma (Khan et al., 2019). Through such initiatives, the government can instill important coping skills and behaviors on the patients while expanding access to relevant health services and medications. Overall, pharmaceutical companies should understand that their actions are causing significant mental health consequences and trauma on HIV patients.

Section 5: Impacts on my Country

The existing conflict over making HIV/AIDS drugs available among Pharmaceutical companies can have broader impacts or ramifications in my country. For instance, the country may spend more resources towards the development social support frameworks to address various behavioral health issues. The government may also spend more resources in providing social support services and other treatment processes. Indeed, HIV patients require strong and efficient emotional and interpersonal support systems (Khan et al., 2019). Another possible impact of the reduced production and supply of the HIV drugs is the possibility of new cases of infections. Without these antiretroviral medications, the country risk high HIV/AIDS vulnerability and higher incidence rates. The country may also design expensive collective responses to implement various prevention programs. Most of these harm-reduction efforts require massive capital and human resource investments.

Pharmaceutical companies have unique corporate social responsibility (CSR) I ensuring the overall wellness of their customers. Currently, most of these companies are focusing on maximizing their profit potentials and margins. While the pharmaceutical entities are operating in a highly competitive economic environment, a strong CSR strategy can further strengthen their market operations (Khan et al., 2019). The firms’ corporate managers should optimize their operations to benefit their customers through efficient, prompt, and cheap supply of HIV drugs. The country should also develop relevant strategies to reduce the socio-economic burden associated with the new cases of HIV infections. The government should also engage different pharmaceutical companies involved in the production and supply of antiretroviral medications to enhance access to such drugs in the country. The government can also remove the tax burdens on the pharmaceutical companies to ensure cheap and efficient supply of their antiretroviral medications to the HIV patients.

 

 

 

References

Blouin-Genest, G., & Erb, M. (2019). Improving HIV/AIDS Drugs Access: A Genealogy of the Human Right to Health from Below. In Human Rights as Battlefields (pp. 225-247). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Dawson, L., Strathdee, S. A., London, A. J., Lancaster, K. E., Klitzman, R., Hoffman, I., … & Sugarman, J. (2018). Addressing ethical challenges in HIV prevention research with people who inject drugs. Journal of medical ethics, 44(3), 149-158.

Donaldson, T. (1996). Values in tension: Ethics away from home. Harvard Business Review, 74(5), 48–62.

Ho, A. (2017). Global Health Disparity and Pharmaceutical Companies’ Obligation to Assist. In Philosophical Issues in Pharmaceutics (pp. 29-45). Springer, Dordrecht.

Khan, S., Ion, A., Alyass, A., Greene, S., Kwaramba, G., Smith, S., … & Loutfy, M. (2019). Loneliness and perceived social support in pregnancy and early postpartum of mothers living with HIV in Ontario, Canada. AIDS care, 31(3), 318-325.

Luna, L. S. (2019). Patently Limited: The Conflict between Public Health and Patent Rights. USFL Rev., 53, 343.

Myers, T. E., & Bush, S. S. (2019). Promoting international ethical readiness. The Routledge International Handbook of Military Psychology and Mental Health.

Owen, T. (2018). Twenty one years of HIV/AIDS medicines in the newspaper: patents, protest, and philanthropy. Media, Culture & Society, 40(1), 75-93.

Patterson, S. E. (2016). The impact of HIV non-disclosure case law on the healthcare engagement of women living with HIV in Canada (Doctoral dissertation, Health Sciences: Faculty of Health Sciences).

Persad, G. C., & Emanuel, E. J. (2017). The case for resource sensitivity: why it is ethical to provide cheaper, less effective treatments in global health. Hastings Center Report, 47(5), 17-24.