Teaching Ethics

Volume 19, Issue 1, Spring 2019

Michael J. Murphy
Pages 71-85

Guiding Students in Assessing Ethical Behavior in the Pharmaceutical Industry
The Relationship between Corporate Codes of Practice/Conduct, Regulatory Oversight, and Violations of Ethical Principles

Holistic ethics education in the professions is never fully served by a reliance on regulatory compliance alone. Data obtained from penalties due to corporate non-compliance in specific professions rarely describe the underlying ethical failures that are the foundation for “rule-breaking” in the professions. However, “violations” data may serve as a springboard for an educational discussion and approach that helps professionals (and those studying to become professionals) to understand the basic moral reasoning that underlies the “good” that is served by adhering to professional Codes of Conduct, Codes of Practice, Codes of Ethics, and the professional regulatory environment. We here use data obtained from the US FDA, US DOJ, and from Violations Tracker and compare these data with the IFPMA (International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Association) Ethos and guiding principles. These side-by-side linkages serve as a mechanism to help students assess which ethical principles are at the core of each such violation in the pharmaceutical industry. We further recommend that this approach be incorporated into ethics education, especially beginning at the undergraduate level, as prophylaxis to ethical lapses in later professional life.