Ethics in Pharma Marketing

Pharmaceutical advertising (including advertising to health care professionals, as well as direct-to-consumer advertising) raises a number of ethical issues.

Not surprisingly, given that the behaviour of pharmaco’s has such a significant impact on human health, scholars in bioethics have been on the front lines, here. Bioethicists have done an excellent job of highlighting serious conflicts of interest, distortions of physician prescription patterns, and concerns about the disproportionate quantity of money spent on advertising (as opposed to, say, R&D).

The downside has been a relative lack of detailed, nuanced attention to issues of corporate ethics. Too often the call has simply been for the pharma industry to “shape up,” and “start behaving responsibly.” It would be really great if lots of people in business ethics took up these issues. For one thing, scholars in business ethics have at their fingertips decades’ worth of relevant literature on ethics in advertising, conflict of interest in the professions, stakeholder involvement, etc etc etc.

Here, the Director of Pharmaceuticals Marketing at Pfizer weighs in on some issues of corporate ethics in pharma advertising.

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