Profits before People?

Profits before People?

Ethical Standards and the Marketing of Prescription Drugs
Leonard J. Weber
Distribution: World
Publication date: 04/12/2006
ISBN: 978-0-253-11210-1
Bookmark and Share

Available through various retailers


The pharmaceutical industry has come under intense criticism in recent years. One poll found that 70% of the sample agreed that drug companies put profits ahead of people. Is this perception accurate? Have drug companies traded ethics for profits and placed people at risk?

In Profits before People? Leonard J. Weber exposes pharmaceutical industry practices that have raised ethical concerns. Providing systematic ethical analysis and reflection, he discusses such practices as compensating physicians for serving as speakers or consultants, providing incentives to physicians to enroll patients as subjects in clinical research, and advertising prescription drugs to the public through the mass media. Weber’s critique of the industry is stern. While acknowledging that new industry guidelines are promising, he finds much room for improvement in the way drug companies market their products. Yet Weber makes a strong case that profits and ethics can coexist and that they are not mutually exclusive.

In an effort to understand the proper place of commerce in disseminating information about new drugs, the book aims to clarify basic responsibilities and to help identify sound ethical practices. It recognizes that ethics and law are not the same, that "having a right" is different from "doing the right thing," and that taking ethics seriously means recognizing that the law does not answer all questions about what is right. Weber points the way to more demanding standards and better practices that might begin to restore confidence in the drug industry.

Author Bio

Leonard J. Weber was on the faculty of the University of Detroit Mercy for more than 30 years. He is now an ethics consultant to healthcare organizations and is author of Business Ethics in Healthcare (IUP, 2001). He lives in Detroit, Michigan.


“"Whether we like it or not, health care is always going to be a business. We hope it will be more than a mere business, and a special sort of business, but it is still a business. Therefore, business ethics has an essential contribution to make to the ethics of health care. Weber's fine volume illustrates how significant that contribution can be." —Howard Brody, M.D., Ph.D., author of The Placebo Response and Stories of Sickness Leonard J. Weber points the way to more demanding standards and better practices that might begin to restore confidence in the drug industry.”

“In this extremely topical text, Weber . . . takes on two of today's most critical issues: business ethics, especially in the pharmaceutical industry, and the marketing of prescription drugs to the general public. . . . This thoroughly engrossing book will be important reading for health care practitioners, drug-marketing representatives, and the public at large. . . . Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates, graduate students, professionals/practitioners, and general readers.”
 — Choice

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents


I. The Limits of Commercial Interests
1. Ethics and For-Profit Business
2. The Pharmaceutical Industry and Its Stakeholders
II. Marketing to Healthcare Professionals
3. Drug Companies and Healthcare Professionals: The Ethics Agenda
4. Medical Professionalism and Scientific Integrity
5. The Industry's Code: Not Good Enough
6. Drug Samples: The Most Important Gifts
7. Marketing Is Not Objective Education
8. Medical Education: Industry at Arm's Length
9. Clinical Research and the Limits of Commercial Interests
III. Marketing to the Public
10. Citizens and Consumers
11. Direct-to-Consumer Advertising: Conflicting Interests
12. Direct-to-Consumer Advertising: Better Is Better