Business Ethics Questions and Answers

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What are the key ethical issues for the research unit of a business, from the perspective of the business as a whole and of the individual manager of the research unit?

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The main pressure on both the organization as a whole and the manager of the unit is to make a profit. This means tremendous pressure on the research unit to arrive in a timely fashion at discoveries that can be made into marketable products. This pressure to produce results quickly can lead to managers not investigating safety or efficacy issues as carefully as they should. Drug companies, in particular, have been castigated for setting up trials to exclude types of people who might not benefit from a product (e.g. the sickest and weakest customers who most need it), excluding as outliers and negative results, ignoring adverse side effects, and suppressing negative results. All of these practices are ethically worrisome.

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