Rather than slam the brakes and do a recall or at least slow down the marketing of the reformulated AD23 drug, the company just carried on and continued to sell the drug anyway. This eventually led to John, one of the people that was pivotal in reformulating the drug in the first place, to become a bit of a whistleblower and suggest that things needed to change. It is interesting that John did not seem to say anything until after his wife died after taking the drug. On the other hand, he surely would have told her to not take the drug if he knew about problems ahead of time. In that way, the company is clearly doing the wrong thing while John is trying to do the right thing. The corporate decision-makers, both before and after the split, that circumvented the law all need to be brought to the proper ethical and legal authorities, up to and including criminal charges for those that kept pushing the drug despite the dubious and illegal way in which the drug was developed and sold and the way in which it was sold even more even after it was known that there were safety issues with the drug. Indeed, John's wife was taking the drug for diabetes, not Alzheimer's. As such, there seems like there might be a problem with AD23 in any formulation or dosage. As such, any variations or versions of the drug need to be analyzed and pulled from the market if they are indeed not safe (Lipworth, Kerridge & Day, 2013).
One last ethical issue that is perhaps not as obvious in terms but should still be mentioned is that which pertains to paying bonuses for prescription drugs and the amount in which they are sold. To use a better example than AD23, one could point to a drug like Oxycontin. When one looks at the practice of paying people more and more as more and more of the drug is sold, it is a bit unseemly and almost certainly ethically dubious. This is true given that opiate-derived prescription drugs are potentially very addicting and this often ensnares people that are taking the drugs for entirely valid reasons such as back problem and war injuries. Even if the gravity of prescribing a diabetes drug is a little less, the same principle applies. If the drug was developed and marketed in the right and legal ways and the same outcomes (minus the deaths) happened, that would be fine, in the grand scheme of things. However, the company was skirting legal and ethical rules from the word "go" and it would seem the primary and only priority that Pharmacare had was to push the drug as hard as possible to as to enrich themselves and to hell with the consequences that ensue (Das, 2012).
When it comes to direct-to-consumer drug marketing, it is hard to give a definitive answer. However, given the totality of the implications and details involved, it would probably be wise to dial back or even ban the practice from a legal standpoint. At the very least, there are some types of drugs and such where there should be pause before pervasive marketing is allowed. Indeed, having consumers deciding their own fate when it comes to most purchases of life is not a big deal and is accepted to be the norm. However, when one is talking about anti-depressants or drugs for any sort of chronic condition such as diabetes, there should be some different rules. Just as one example, real-life experience tells us that the first-line drug for diabetes has been Metformin and this will likely not change for a while. Regardless, the patient will usually never know as much as a doctor or other trained medical person will know about what drugs are best, which ones should be avoided and why. Beyond that, a lot of the brand name drugs (especially those with a patent still in force, thus precluding a generic) are extremely expensive and there are often drugs that work just fine and are much cheaper. To be sure, there are already situations where drug companies are either limiting themselves or the tenets of corporate social responsibility are taking root. Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to give an example of any drug in the opiate (e.g. Vicodin) or benzodiazepine (e.g. Xanax) being advertised on any sort of widespread basis. Even further, the author of this report does not recall ever seeing ads for either one of those types of drugs. Drugs relating to diabetes and depression, on the other hand, are pervasive. Tresiba, Abilify and a few others are just one example of this. In general, the author of this report would say that while free markets and consumer choice should rule the day, both of those should be tied to informed consent based on timely and proper advice from a physician and not in response to an ad spiel on television. This is not to say that doctors and medical professionals in general are not in…
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