In my last post, I described my broadened perception of ethical obligations. I began the project focused on alternative sources of funding pharmaceutical R&D that might create better end solutions for society as a whole, my ethical inquiry focused on ethics of an open mind. What I didn’t expect was how integral an open mind was going to be for me throughout this project. I started the project with clear expectations that I would be focused on two alternatives: public private ventures (PPVs) and prize fund systems. What I didn’t anticipate was the wide variety of “alternatives” in a widely changing and evolving industry. Continue reading
As the project begins to wind down, I want to take a moment and reflect on the idea of ethical duties. I began this project in an attempt to understand the current situation of innovation within the industry (how it was being financed, how businesses developed it both within and outside of the company, etc.) so that I could gain a better understanding on issues relating to pricing and availability. I hoped to address the idea that companies may or may not possess ethical obligations to pursue alternatives by combining the new understanding of innovation with firm perspectives on alternatives for developing innovation.
As I listened to people within the industry and continued readings from opposite side of the debate, my understanding of ethical duties has broadened. Continue reading
As I drove with The Giving Circle Team to visit Kagoma Gate this morning, I reflected on what I should write about in my blog for this week. I came up with a pretty good outline in my head but what we came upon in the village today had to be written about. I am still many weeks and many conversations with the villagers away from grasping how the village was created, however, I believe the experience we had today trying to help an extremely ill child has given significant insight, or at least a possible hypothesis, as to how the founders were able to create Kagoma Gate.
While walking through the village, one of the team members found a young three year old boy whose cheek was extremely swollen. When he turned his face to the side, part of his jaw was showing. Both the inside of his mouth and outside of his face was extremely infected. We did not know what was wrong but it was clear this boy needed immediate medical care. We got in the car and after passing the miles of sugar cane we arrived at the guarded off gate to the sugar cane company’s private village. Inside we passed an outside market, an inside supermarket, offices, extremely nice buildings and well-dressed people—all things completely foreign to Kagoma Gate. This was the home of the executive workers of the sugar cane company.
I hope the post finds you well. I am sorry the post is a day behind schedule, but I wanted to wait until I had more insight into the new book I am reading for the project, Bioindustry Ethics.
Over the past week as I continued the interviews, I began reflecting on many of the assumptions/generalizations I have been encountering in the project thus far. These assumptions from outsider perspectives can take many forms and can often be simplistic or misleading such as these following examples: large pharmaceutical companies focus solely on profits; companies do little to address questions surrounding access to their products; companies put minimal effort into R&D in comparison to marketing and promotion of products. Continue reading
I hope last week’s economics overview provided a beneficial background to the subject. That background will be important today as I review the past week of interviews. This past week I conducted two interviews—one with the CEO of a small vaccine technology company and the other a chief business officer of a small pharmaceutical company. During the interviews I was able to learn a few things—1) I still have much to learn on the business side, 2) companies experience financial strain that academics don’t always discuss, 3) in order to avoid financial strain, companies are exploring business alternatives 4) there is unfamiliarity with prize funds and 5) I learned some new perspectives of ethics in the industry. In the subsequent paragraphs I will be elaborating on these points.
In both conversations I quickly discovered the business side of the industry is very complex. There are many factors affecting the development and operations of the business that I had not understood well until the interviews. Among these lessons was an emphasis on the financial strain businesses face bringing the patent to product. In the past 15 years, the interviewees stressed the different investment atmosphere. Because of the high R&D costs, companies rely on attracting investors or receiving funding from a variety of sources. I was told that 15 years ago it was possible to receive investment from venture capitalists solely with a patented idea. Now, companies must first be able to demonstrate the efficacy of the product and in many cases safety in the form of stage 1 clinical trials before venture capitalists are willing to invest. Continue reading