Get the Ethics Right, Gain a Billion Customers

From Business Week: The Rush To Test Drugs In China

The story is about the pros & cons, for pharmaceutical companies, of doing business in China.

…working inside China’s sprawling, often under-supervised health-care system may raise complex ethical questions. In the past, Chinese medical authorities have greenlighted risky experiments, including stem cell injections and treatments that involve altering the patient’s genes. Moreover, people recruited into trials don’t always understand what they have signed up for, but they rush to join because it may be their only chance to see a doctor.

This is a minefield for companies: as the story notes, many companies “choose to keep their distance.”

It’s entirely possible that Western companies just can’t do business in China while adhering to the ethical expectations of folks back home. But then, entrepreneurs thrive on being told something just can’t be done. So, the challenge: a billion customers for the company that figures out how to navigate this ethics minefield.

(Yes, yes, I realize some companies will just make a mad dash for the short-term cash, ethics be damned. But that’s a lame business plan.)

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