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  1. ‘ Why older Workers Work beyond the Retirement Age’



    Write a critique on ‘ Why older Workers Work beyond the Retirement Age: a qualitative Study by Sewdas et al (2017 ) BMC Journal of Public Health Vol.17 (1) pp.1-9    



Subject Nursing Pages 7 Style APA



The need for business ethics is increasingly becoming a topic of concern in the business world. According to Han et al., consumers are more informed, and thus, their decision-making process is often inclined to favor the most ethical and moral businesses (9). For this reason, businesses are using ethics as a marketing approach to entice ethical customers. Over the past decade, the pharmaceutical industry has consistently featured among the most unethical industries. It has negatively featured alongside the oil and gas industry and the textile industry as being involved in unethical practices. They include overpricing of essential drugs, and misleading advertisements in addition to animal testing, and disregard for patenting systems (counterfeiting). Despite these challenges, the outbreak of COVID-19 has presented a new trial to the pharmaceutical industry. It is tasked with finding a workable vaccine that will help calm the current anxiety and uncertainty arising from the global health pandemic. As a result, the industry is faced with a tough decision on whether or not to patent the COVID-19 vaccine.

Patenting the drug means a higher profit margin for the company that invents the most effective vaccine. On the contrary, disregarding the patents and allowing the widespread publication of data on the virus genome structure will contribute towards knowledge sharing, thus faster generation of a useful and universally acceptable vaccination. Besides, the resultant pooling of resources will help ease the financial burden involved in conducting the research, thus reducing the vaccines’ cost. Guided by this backdrop, this business ethics research paper argues against the patenting of Covid-19 vaccines. It notes that it would be unethical for companies to patent the vaccine yet, the world is facing a crisis that compromises each individual’s future. It is the best time for the industry to redeem itself by saving humanity.

Ethical Issues Presented

Patents refer to legal instruments that protect the patent holder, also known as the patentee, from untimely duplication of their ideas and inventions. Van defines patents as any form of intellectual property that issues special rights to the legal owner of an invention excluding others from producing, using, and selling an invention for a specified period of years (883). They become enforceable once a person’s or organizations patent application is accepted and decreed by the law. Medical utility patents encourage innovations in the pharmaceutical industry as it protects medical treatment regimens, healthcare information, medical devices, and surgical procedures from being copied by other companies.

The essence of exclusive rights is to encourage companies to undertake capital-intensive research and develop vaccines or drugs without fear that they might fail to recover their initial capital outlay. The resultant drugs and vaccines are given the term blockbusters to mean popular and highly profitable drugs with annual sales of more than $1billion. Furthermore, patents present patentees with unique privileges and advantages such as precluding rivals from producing similar vaccines or drugs. The medical utility patents empower pharmaceutical firms to license their patents, which can be shared with other firms to help recover developmental costs. This explanation justifies the significance of patents in the pharmaceutical and helps set the stage for dissecting the ethical issues associated with the patenting of Covid-19 vaccines. To a wide extend, this representation of facts also highlights the ethical dilemma involved in deciding on either patent or not-patent the Covid-19 vaccine.

  • Professor Decision Model

The professor decision model is beneficial in evaluating the impact of patents on different stakeholders and the companies/industry’s core values in connection to responsibility, sustainability, and justice. According to this model, ethical decisions have to create utility for the most number of people. In the case of the Covid-19 vaccine, the greatest benefits will be enjoyed by the citizens who are terrified by the devastating damage caused by Covid-19. These people need vaccines urgently. For this reason, the pharmaceuticals can postpone their profit-making plan to increase the utility derived by most consumers across the world. The second group of stakeholders are the pharmaceutical firms. These firms have a right to profit from their technologies and the invention of vaccines. However, for the greater good of society, they should be encouraged to compromise the financial incentives and work together to come up with unpatented vaccines and drugs. Surprisingly, more than 150 organizations came together and encouraged Gilead Sciences not to patent the remdesivir vaccine for Covid-19. Additionally, AbbVie forfeited its patents for Kaletra, a potential Covid-19 vaccine. This step shows the industry’s commitment to engage in collective sharing and creation of knowledge—the third group of stakeholders in the government. The government has a role in safeguarding its citizens. As a result, it should deregulate the industry and encourage the firms not to patent their vaccines.

The second element of the professor decision model is core values associated with responsibility, sustainability, and justice. A critical analysis of the pharmaceutical industry’s happenings justifies that this is the best time for the pharmaceutical industry to redeem its lost reputation. They must exhibit their value for humanity over profitability as they have made the public to believe. Adekola insists that the industry’s responsibility is to use the Covid-19 emergency to extend some goodwill to the public by being responsive to the current pandemic (696).  In terms of sustainability, pharmaceutical firms must balance people’s triple goal, planet, and profits. Looking at this ethical dilemma from this dimension, it is arguable that the firms should also make some margin of profit from inventing the vaccines. For this reason, they should charge a significant fee for the vaccines. They should ensure that they produce vaccines using locally available and organic materials that do not pollute the environment. These efforts will greatly benefit people.

Public Health Issues

As the pandemic continues to affect society negatively, public health officials have been beckoning pharmaceutical companies not to patent their Covid-19 vaccines. These officials have encouraged the pharmaceuticals to share their patents and intellectual property rights to speed up the research process that would help discover a reliable vaccine (Callahan, para 2). They further note that sharing in the research will speed up the vaccine’s production and accessibility to the vulnerable people who need it the most. This request by the public health officials contravenes the age-long practices embraced by the pharmaceutical industry where trade secrets are legally protected and closely guarded. Requesting these companies to share such information to aid in discovering an emergency vaccine means that the pharmaceutical companies will be giving away a valuable trade secret to save humanity.

As much as this is the case, the option of sharing knowledge will speed up the discovery of a viable medicine that will help save many lives, most of which are the very customers that the pharmaceuticals have been selling their drugs to (Bonadio & Andrea, 5). In this case, assuming that these customers are all wiped by the virus, the pharmaceutical firms will not have a market to sell to even if they produced blockbuster drugs. For this reason, it is logical, moral, and ethical that the companies heed the calls by the public health officers to create collective knowledge where forfeiting patents and intellectual property could ease their current burden of independently financing the expensive research involved in discovering a novel vaccine for the coronavirus. As much as the proposal to share IP is valid, McMahon laments that some pharmaceuticals are likely to either withhold information or resources or work individually towards creating a vaccine to boost their reputation (340). This decision is a major challenge that could cause dispute among the other pharmaceuticals that share their patents.

Pannu et al. explain that Covid-19 is a serious health pandemic that affects everyone either directly or indirectly (648). Everyone is vulnerable to the infection. Given the high-risk factor associated with the virus, there is an urgency to mobilize a more collaborated and unified research response. This strategy will ensure that the much-needed treatments are invented within a short period and produced quicker, which reduces time to market. This action is necessary for making the vaccine quickly available, thus saving lives.

Consumer protection

Concerning consumer protection, Zerhouni blames the pharmaceutical industry for failing to cater to all their customers (1035) equitably. This author calls out the industry for its misuse of the patenting programs noting that the idea of protecting these firms against competition has encouraged unethical behavior where pharmaceuticals focus more on finding treatments for diseases that are highly profitable while neglecting those that are not. Additionally, Nascimento et al. lament that the pharmaceutical firms have focused more on inventing blockbuster drugs for chronic illnesses since they have to purchase them regardless of the prices (19) repeatedly. Companies that produce effective blockbuster drugs and manage to get the patent for a prolonged period; tend to misuse the monopoly to set the prices as they see fit. Such unethical practices that exploit consumers are highly likely if the Covid-19 vaccine is patented. To avoid this scenario and instead protect the customers, the vaccines mustn’t be subjected to intellectual property and patents. Nicol and Jane launched another complaint against the pharmaceutical firms noting that their focus on profitability and competition incentives has derailed their willingness towards preparing for pandemics (5). The focus on profitable innovations has created a big disadvantage in the fight against pandemics.

Government regulations anti-trust laws

In line with the public health officials’ request that the pharmaceutical companies share their intellectual property, they have requested the World Health Organization (WHO) to work on easing regulatory policies to allow for greater collaboration among pharmaceuticals. This request is vital, given that strict policies very much regulate the activities in this industry. Most times, the companies guilty of breaching the patents could be subjected to heavy punishments. In such a case, it is prudent that the WHO organization works towards deregulating the current policies to encourage firms to freely share resources and knowledge towards discovering a common vaccine for the Covid-19.

As part of derestricting the industry, there is a need for the WHO organization and other regulators such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ease the current laws on patenting and storage of medicines and regulations on clinical trial data. The regulators need to relax all the laws that make it hard for the other scientists and pharmaceutical firms to develop generic versions of the blockbusters. Rogosnitzky, Esther, and Alejandro highlight a common trend where some drugs have dozens of patents, which enable the companies to extend the exclusive rights for many years, thus making more profits (99). The maximum period could run from 25 to 40 years of legal protection. Assuming that the pharmaceutical firms took such measures, it would be very expensive for them to afford the drugs/ vaccines. It would take the government a lot of cash to subsidize the high price of the vaccines. Therefore as much as the patents incentivize pharmaceutical companies, there is an urgent need for the companies to compromise profitability and help address the current public health crisis.

Business Recommendation

Guided by this analysis, the following recommendations are proposed to the pharmaceutical firms.

First, the individual firms in the industry are encouraged to apply ethics of care, rights and duties, virtue of ethics, and ethics of justice in solving the ethical dilemma facing the industry. A dissection of these ethical philosophies supports the need for the industry to work collaborative towards finding a reliable vaccine. Collaborative working means eliminating patents and as an alternative, working jointly towards fostering the ethics of care or bioethics. According to Abbott and Jerome, the ethics of care is classified as a normative ethical theory that dictates that professionals in the healthcare and medicine sectors embrace care and benevolence as key virtues (555). Because of this ethics, the pharmaceutical firms are obligated to remove patents from Covid-19 vaccines. The rights and duties ethics dictates that human beings have right to good health and peace of mind. Since Covid-19 has destabilized peace of mind, it is required that the pharmaceutical firms engage in duties that promote human rights. The ethics of justice, also known as morality of justice insists that it is a moral choice for the pharmaceutical firms to choose solutions that cause the least damage and optimize the outcome. For instance, removing patents will disadvantage few stakeholders in the industry while optimizing utility for the greater good of the vulnerable populations around the globe. The ethics of justice coincides with the social contract theory which obligates decision makers to make moral decisions each day.

The second recommendation is that the government and other stakeholders support the goodwill of the pharmaceutical industry. For instance, the government should remove the exhobitant costs charged on the companies to patent the drugs. Similarly, the government should ease the laws on testing of the vaccines so that they are quickly processed to reduce their lead time. This move will ensure that the vaccines are produced rapidly and that they reach a lot of people, in a short time, and at the lowest possible cost. The decisions by the government should contribute towards streamlining and easing the value chain and supply chain for the companies and scientists involved in designing the Covid-19 vaccine. Assuming that the government support the industry and removes the need for patenting of Covid-19, then the firms will have every reason to engage in collective generation and sharing of knowledge that will help fight the pandemic. Additionally, the government could provide financial incentives to the companies to encourage them to jointly work on projects that contribute towards generating vaccines that do not require patents.

Personal Reflection

A reflection on the pharmaceutical industry’s ethical dilemma shows that the companies in the industry are having a hard time coming up with the most effective vaccines. Apart from this challenge, the companies and the industry have lost credibility among current and potential customers. Past instances of unethical conduct have tainted the industry’s name, which is consistently associated with profit maximization tactics. I believe that this is the best time for the industry to redeem itself by participating in activities that save lives. For this reason, this paper analyzes the industry’s duty of care. This duty encourages people and organizations to engage in activities that show care for other people. Pharmaceuticals can apply this model to communicate with its customers and show how they care. From the analysis, most authors support the need for non-patenting of the Covid-19 vaccine since it would delay finding a vaccine. This statement is backed by the adage, noting that when people unite, they can do exploits, but when they are divided, they engage more in conflicts, which derails them from accomplishing any goals. In the pharmaceutical industry, it is quintessential that collaboration will enable them to achieve better results. As much as this proposal is made, there is the question of whether each pharmaceutical company will be willing to support the initiative (Zhuang et al., 1066). This statement is made to realize that some companies are likely to forego the option of un-patenting their Covid-19 vaccines since they have already invested extensively in the research process.

Concluding Thoughts

To this end, it is ethical that the pharmaceutical sector unites to save the world. The unity should not be short-while as firms are bound to lose out on the benefits of working together. Instead, organizations should jointly engage in projects that will help in improving human life. One of the key areas that has drawn my attention is the report that the pharmaceutical industry prefers researching and developing vaccines and drugs for chronic illnesses and diseases with high profitability while ignoring those diseases that attract small profit margins. Such practices are unethical and could be eradicated with the removal of patents. In general, I hold the opinion that the pharmaceutical industry should be ethical in their dealings. One way to be moral and ethical is by accepting to remove the patents on Covid19 vaccines to allow other firms to produce vaccines and recommend modifications that could reduce the time to market the vaccines. Considering these thoughts could help the firms in redeeming their tarnished reputation.


Abbott, Frederick M., and Jerome H. Reichman. “Facilitating Access to Cross-Border Supplies of Patented Pharmaceuticals: The Case of the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Journal of International Economic Law 23.3 (2020): 535-561.

Adekola, Tolulope Anthony. “Should COVID-19 treatment be patented? Rethinking the theoretical justification for the grant of pharmaceutical patent.” European Intellectual Property Review 42.11 (2020): 695-697.

Bonadio, Enrico, and Andrea Baldini. “COVID-19, patents and the never-ending tension between proprietary rights and the protection of public health.” European Journal of Risk Regulation (2020): 1-6.

Callahan, Molly. Should pharmaceutical companies give up their patent protections to find a vaccine for COVID-19?, 2020. Retrieved from: https://news.northeastern.edu/2020/04/14/should-pharmaceutical-companies-give-up-their-patent-protections-to-find-a-vaccine-for-covid-19/

Han, Zhenzhen, et al. “The ethics of COVID-19 clinical trials: new considerations in a controversial area.” Integrative Medicine Research 9.3 (2020).

McMahon, Aisling. “Patents, access to health and COVID-19–The role of compulsory and government-use licensing in Ireland.” Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly 71.3 (2020): 331-358.

Nascimento Junior, José Adão Carvalho, et al. “SARS, MERS and SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) treatment: a patent review.” Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Patents just-accepted (2020).

Nicol, Dianne, and Jane Nielsen. “Humanity cannot afford a COVID‑19 patent battle.” Australian Academy of Science (2020).

Pannu, Jaspreet. “Inclusive Biomedical Innovation during the COVID‐19 Pandemic.” Global Policy 11.5 (2020): 647-649.

Rogosnitzky, Moshe, Esther Berkowitz, and Alejandro R. Jadad. “Delivering Benefits at Speed through Real-World Repurposing of Off-Patent Drugs: The COVID-19 Pandemic as a Case in Point.” JMIR Public Health and Surveillance 6.2 (2020): e19199.

Van Overwalle, Geertrui. “Will Covid patents save the world? GRUR International 69.9 (2020): 883-884.

Zerhouni, Will, Gary J. Nabel, and Elias Zerhouni. “Patents, economics, and pandemics.” (2020): 1035-1035.

Zhuang, Wei, et al. “Chinese patent medicines in the treatment of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in China.” Frontiers in pharmacology 11 (2020): 1066.

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