Sample Essay on Stakeholder Responsibilities in Consumer protection

Stakeholder Responsibilities in Consumer protection

Part A

Question 1

Workplace diversity is described as the availability of people with different personal characteristics in the workplace. The most commonly cited forms of workplace diversity include race, religion, and gender. However, there are more than these, including differences in thinking styles and socio-economic backgrounds. Some of these differences are considered somewhat superficial as they are not really perceived out rightly. On the other hand, some diversity types are more pronounced such as race and religious backgrounds. Considering illegal immigrants in the context of workplace diversity, it can be really difficult to place the worker situations into the context of conventional workplace diversity types. Illegal immigrants are mostly people of different ethnicities, religions, and probably races than those who are already in a workplace, hence the challenge in describing illegal immigration itself as a type of workplace diversity (Hudson Jr., 2014). It is therefore deductible that illegal immigrants do not constitute a form of workplace diversity but rather contribute to other forms of diversity in the workplace.

Workplace diversity is mostly defined based on factors that cannot be controlled. This implies that a characteristic such as being an illegal immigrant would not constitute a form of workplace diversity. According to Lawrence and Weber (2014), factors such as race, ethnicity, age, and gender cannot be controlled and are not time-variant hence are a form of workplace diversity. The individual status of a worker as an illegal immigrant is a decision made by the worker and in which the worker has control. They can choose to remain as illegal immigrants (which is a federal offense), or pursue immigration papers, or even go back to their countries. Additionally, the illegal immigrant status is time-variant and can be changed based solely on the decision of the worker, hence making it unacceptable as a form of workplace diversity.

However, there is another category of workplace diversity forms under which illegal immigration may be considered a cause of ethnic diversity. Hudson Jr. (2014) categorizes workplace diversity into primary diversity and secondary diversity. The primary diversity entails aspects that are unchangeable and in which the worker has no control while the secondary diversity constitutes the rest of the factors that the workers may have some level of control and which have some time variance. The primary diversity, therefore, constitutes aspects such as age and gender, while the secondary diversity constitutes aspects such as educational level and socioeconomic status. In this case, illegal immigration would be cited as a cause of diversity in the workplace socioeconomic status.

Question 2

Illegal immigrants affect various stakeholders in a conventional workplace differently. Employers usually benefit from illegal immigrants by their ability to offer higher quality service for a lower value compared to other employees. The employers avoid paying taxes for the illegal immigrants as they have no tax obligations to the country and are not covered by the national minimum wage policy. Similarly, the immigrants benefit from such an arrangement as they can enjoy the benefits of employment without fulfilling their obligations to any government. The government’s hurt as a result of having to provide many people with resources without any impact on the economy. Illegal immigrants increase the pressure on social resources without contributing to the national GDP. Similarly, for the general public, illegal immigrants have a negative implication as they result in increased competition on the available jobs.

Part B

Section 1

The social responsibility of pharmaceutical companies is to ensure that the drugs they manufacture are safe for patient use and offer quality outcomes for the conditions they are purported to treat. To ensure this happens, pharmaceutical companies have to follow a stringent procedure of research, testing, and approval prior to marketing any drugs (Eaton, 2007). Violation of social responsibility, therefore, would be considered conduct that actually violates the recommended practice protocol and subsequently results in harm to the target populations. A key factor of consideration in the development and testing of any drug is customer-centricity. Pharmaceutical companies have to address issues of significant concern among patients and come up with products that would be used to solve those issues without causing harm to patients (Eaton, 2007). As such, the research and development process for pharmaceutical companies has to be flawless in terms of intentional allowance for harm. Accordingly, it would be wrong to argue that Merck did not maintain social responsibility in its development and testing of Vioxx.

First, the company followed the same protocol it has previously used for the development and testing of all its other drugs. The start of the R&D process on the drug was initiated by the common interest shared by many pharmaceutical companies in the development of an effective drug for osteoarthritis. Previously developed drugs helped address osteoarthritis by suppressing both cyclo-oxygenase enzymes (COX-1 and COX-2), whereas it had been established that only COX-2 was liable for the irritability experienced by individuals suffering from arthritis. The focus of the companies was thus on the possibility of developing a drug that could suppress only COX-2 and retain COX-1 due to the beneficial effects of the latter (Lawrence & Weber, 2014). Merck’s interest in developing such a drug, therefore, cannot be considered irresponsible since it was influenced by customer centrism. Therefore, the decision to initiate R&D on a possible drug was also customer-centered.

Secondly, the company conducted rigorous research on the drug in its labs, conducting clinical trials and numerous researches run by several scientists. It is notable that the same labs had been accredited and are renowned for their efficacy and their effectiveness. The same protocol in research and testing that had been used for past drugs was used with no indication of its probability to cause harm. In spite of future complaints from some of the company’s scientists, the complaints were isolated cases and were not backed with sufficient evidence to the side effects of the drug. Furthermore, the report indicates that the Merck scientists approved the drug internally prior to submitting it for review by the FDA (Lawrence & Weber, 2014). Had there been strong convictions of the possible cardiovascular outcomes following its use, the drug could not have been approved by the company scientists. As such, it is deniable that the company would have conducted poor or ineffective product testing and development. This conduct is similarly an indication of social responsibility on Merck’s part during the development.

The testing and development process for the drug was unhurried. From the report, it is clear that the drug testing and development process took years. For research that started in the early 1990s, the company only confirmed its approval in 1999, indicating the company’s commitment to providing quality and effective drugs and ensuring that there are no issues of patient safety (Lawrence & Weber, 2014). The company committed to serving the patients safely and effectively first before gaining the revenue from its drugs is a further confirmation of the impossibility of socially irresponsible testing and development process for drugs to be used by humans.

Section 2

The actions of Merck in its relationship with customers and shareholders cannot be described as socially irresponsible. Every business attempts to get in touch with its customers and to give them maximum value. At the same time, the shareholders’ rationale for running any business is to ensure profitability. With regards to, the company provided an opportunity for shareholders to get additional revenue, with the initial intention to provide better care to patients with osteoarthritis (Lawrence & Weber, 2014). As such, their actions were guided by internal research and the external approval process for the drug. The customer-centered approach, through which the initial intention of the company in developing Vioxx was shaped, is an indication of its social responsibility to the customers. Additionally, the company clearly outlines its endless intention to provide effective patient care by focusing first on patient wellness before addressing the issue of revenue since through effective drug development procedures, the revenues automatically come in.

Additionally, practices such as compliance with regulations and transparency, have also confirmed the company’s social responsibility to both the shareholders and the customers. By being transparent on the R&D and marketing costs, the company shows the company’s input into ensuring patient safety. From the expenditures incurred and the time spent on R&D, it is possible to see that the company was not focused on returns from the drug. At the same time, complying with the regulations concerning the release of new drugs into the market ensures that the shareholders are indemnified from any mishaps that would have occurred as a result of carelessness and failure to follow regulations (Noordin, 2012). In this way, the company exhibited social responsibility to both customers and the shareholders.

Section 3

Every investor engages in marketing as a strategy to boost the economic benefits associated with their business. As such, understanding the role of marketing in the business model can help businesses to create a marketing strategy that complies with the regulations in place and also purposes to pull customers to the product. For instance, Khazzaka (2019), reports that the marketing of pharmaceutical products can influence physician patterns of prescription.  According to Francer et al. (2014), socially responsible marketing is a marketing practice in which ethical values override the focus on profitability. This type of marketing is more commendable for the pharmaceutical industry as the industry deals directly with human lives and excessive focus on profitability can be a hindrance to socially responsible marketing (Francer et al., 2014). For this reason, government entities put in place regulations guiding marketing for pharmaceutical companies as well as any other companies that handle consumer products. Compliance with such rules would be considered to result in marketing within the confines of social and ethical responsibility. As such, it is deductible that since Merck acted within the confines of government regulations on pharmaceutical marketing, the company acted in a socially responsible manner.

Merck’s marketing activities initially targeted physicians and healthcare facilities, providing sufficient information regarding Vioxx. When the law was changed to allow direct-to-consumer marketing, the company also changed its strategy to reflect this change in regulation amidst a competitive industry. While Van de Pol and de Bakker (2010), report that direct to consumer marketing can result in consumer insistence on particular products regardless of the physicians’ recommendations, it cannot be said that Merck acted unethically since the law deemed it ethical to market directly to consumers, and the drug was a prescription-only drug. However, the main concern with the company’s marketing was the “dodge ball Vioxx” which indicated that the marketers could dodge some questions during marketing activities (Lawrence & Weber, 2014). The intentionality of this dodging activity points to a lack of social responsibility and can be equated to lying to customers during marketing.

Section 4

The interaction between Merck and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was the most pronounced out of other interactions with government entities and policymakers. Considering the relationship between the two entities, it is arguable that Merck acted in a socially responsible manner with the FDA. The company conducted its internal research and development procedure for Vioxx rigorously prior to submitting the drug for evaluation by the FDA (Lawrence & Weber, 2014). The procedure followed was accurate and in compliance with the conventional drug approval process (Noordin, 2012). The company focused on its mandate and allowed the FDA to pursue its mandate in drug testing and approval.

Additionally, acts such as paying an entity for testing could have been considered unethical on the part of Merck. However, it has been reported that complaints initially rose from the patient population as much as they rose from the pharmaceutical companies regarding the delays in the FDA drug approval process (Lawrence & Weber, 2014). Accordingly, the changes made by the government to foster a faster turnaround by the FDA for the drug approval process were done in the consideration of the best public interest. In any case, payments came from Merck; they were not directly aimed at fostering the approval process for Vioxx. The company, therefore, maintained its integrity in dealing with the FDA both during the drug testing and development process and during its marketing and distribution process. Moreover, the company’s involvement of the regulatory functions during the drug recall process also confirms the respect for the mandates of the different government entities and thus reflects social responsibility.

Section 5

Product recall practices can be a challenge in any industry. According to Cheah, Chan, and Chieng (2007), product recalls in the pharmaceutical industry can be due to any number of reasons including potency issues, drug mix-up, quality of dosage forms, drug volumes, labeling defects, and questioned generic formulations. Additionally, dispenser malfunctions and the absence of therapeutic defects can result in the need for product recall. These factors are outside the observed adverse effects, which could be attributed to questioned formulations, or formulation errors. For a company to act socially responsible in product recall there has to be an identification of the issues of concern with the product, followed by sincere concern for patient health. The decision by Merck to recall Vioxx from the market, therefore, is a clear indication of the company’s willingness to act responsibly by caring for the patients it intends to treat.

Initiating a product recall is a practice that has to follow a specific procedure. The company first made internal investigations to ascertain the validity of the claims. Studies such as VIGOR, Kaiser and APPROVe, all purposed to ascertain the effectiveness of the drug and its purported side effects (Lawrence & Weber, 2014). Following the first study, VIGOR, the FDA should have required Merck to recall the drug. However, the company was obliged to include a warning to the packaging, a requirement that was satisfied. The intentionally increased research on the drug confirms the company’s commitment to patient safety and their willingness to follow the due procedure to recall the product. The obtained data was reviewed and then evaluated for authenticity. The procedure for the recall itself confirmed the company’s social responsibility in collaborating with research entities, healthcare facilities, the consumers, and the FDA as the authority behind the approval of drugs.

The voluntary recall of the product was characterized by effective communication to the affected individuals and to all the stakeholders. The company did not buy time but rather initiated the recall procedure as soon as the available data was confirmed, an indication of social responsibility for excessive emphasis on profitability. This was in alignment with the company’s commitment to patient safety and effectiveness of treatment over profitability. Accordingly, the company demonstrated care and empathy to patients, concepts that are prerequisites in the pharmaceutical industry. Cheah, Chan, and Chieng (2007), posit that constructive response to the need to recall a product is in itself an indication of transparency and social responsibility. In this particular case, Merck had mixed responses from stakeholders such as physicians and even among the company’s scientists. Based on these mixed feelings and the FDA’s previous advice to keep the product in the market with a strong warning, the company could have taken advantage of the market and continued to distribute Vioxx. However, the company’s commitment to patient safety informed the ultimate decision, a clear indication of social responsibility.

References

Cheah, E.T., Chan, W.L., & Chieng, C.L.L. (2007). The corporate social responsibility of pharmaceutical product recalls An empirical examination of U.S. and U.K. markets. Journal of Business Ethics, 76(4), 427-449. Retrieved from link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10551-006-9292-1

Eaton, M.L. (2007). Ethical issues associated with pharmaceutical innovation. In Hanekamp, G., & Wutscher, F. (Eds.). Business ethics of innovation. Ethics of Science and Technology Assessment, 31. Retrieved from link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-540-72310-3_4

Francer, J., Izquierdo, J.Z., Music, T., Narsai, K., Nikidis, C., Simmonds, H., & Woods, P. (2014). Ethical pharmaceutical promotion and communications worldwide: Codes and regulations. Philosophy, Ethics and Humanities in Medicine, 9(7). Retrieved from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3974225/

Hudson Jr, S.W. (2014). Diversity in the workforce. Journal of Education and Human Development, 3(4), 73-82. Retrieved from jehdnet.com/journals/jehd/Vol_3_No_4_December_2014/7.pdf

Khazzaka, M. (2019). Pharmaceutical marketing strategies’ influence on physicians’ prescribing pattern in Lebanon: ethics, gifts, and samples. BMC Health Services Research, 19(80). Retrieved from bmchealthservres.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12913-019-3887-6

Lawrence, A.T., & Weber, J. (2014). Business and society: Stakeholders, ethics and public policy (14th Ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Noordin, M.I. (2012). Ethics in pharmaceutical issues. In Contemporary issues in bioethics. Intech Open. Retrieved from cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs/31746/tech-ethics_in_pharmaceutical_issues.pdf

Van de Pol, P., & de Bakker, F. (2010). Direct-to-consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals as a matter of corporate social responsibility? Journal of Business Ethics, 94(2), 211-224. Retrieved from www.researchgate.net/publication/225126269_Direct-to-Consumer_Advertising_of_Pharmaceuticals_as_a_Matter_of_Corporate_Social_Responsibility