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Do pharmaceutical companies have an obligation to develp and produce vaccines for diseases (such as TB, Malaria) that exist primarily in poor countries Do pharmaceutical companies have an obligation to develp and produce vaccines for diseases (such as TB, Malaria) that exist primarily in poor countries

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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You could argue that wealthy countries have an obligation to help poorer countries, but the pharmaceutical companies don't. It takes money and time to develop and distribute a vaccine, and arguably there would be no profit in it. A company's only obligation is to its shareholders.

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pacorz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Companies exist for only one reason - to make money. If a pharmaceutical company decides that the production of a specific vaccine will be a profitable venture, then it will work on creating that vaccine. Other than that, they are under no legal obligation to produce any specific product.

Ethically, it would be nice for these companies to reinvest some of their profits in research that would benefit the needy. US companies can get a discount on their federal income taxes for doing work of this nature, and some companies have also used charitable research as a way to improve the company's public image.

Keep in mind that in some cases the availability of the vaccine would only be half of the solution; getting it distributed to those in need can also be costly, and would not be the pharmaceutical company's responsibility.

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seapoodles | Student

The only obligation the pharmaceutical companies have is to their share holders. Pharmaceutical companies primary concern is their bottom line. It is indeed a possibility that the chemists who are employed by said companies start out with the goal to better man kind but creating cures and vaccines. However, they too must meet the financial obligations set forth by these companies. In addition, pharmaceutical companies must meet FDA approval and spend millions on conducting trails to ensure safety of their medications. It is quite feasible to say that many more vaccines could be on the market, yet the companies find that it is not cost effective to create them. The least of the pharmaceutical companies concern is solving medical issues in poor countries given the fact that such philanthropy would in no way increase their stock values.