Ethical Principles in the Health Care System

Ethical Principles in the Health Care System

Drugs are vital for the physical wellbeing of an individual. However, some drugs may achieve their intended purpose and at the same cause unintended harm to the user. Therefore, medical practitioners such as nurses, pharmacists, and researchers need to observe the ethical principles to ensure that they do not cause harm to the patients (Duwell, 2013). Medical corporations need to be morally responsible for ensuring that their products and production processes o do not harm the environment and human health (Goodpaster, & Mathews, 1982). Ethics are a vital component in the excellent delivery of medical services, products and safety of patients (Limentani, 1999). This paper will explore how Rxcellent pharmaceutical company impacted on the six ethical principles by pushing for the sale of Levelhedin despite having some implication on the patients. The case of Rxcellent is similar to the issue of Vioxx an arthritis pain reliever in the U.S. The drug had experienced great success right after its inception into the market in 1999 (Presley, 2007). Before the end of 1999, strong marketing had led to 5 million prescriptions and use of the drug in more than 47 countries in the world (Presley, 2007). By 2011, Vioxx had become the most prescribed drug for arthritis in the US. However, the drug was withdrawn from the market in for its relation with the pulmonary deaths in the U.S. Despite being a revenue savior for Merck; the company saw it worth to pull of the drug from the market for safety and ethical reasons (Presley, 2007).


The principle of beneficence advocates for medical practices to benefit patients. Therefore, medical practices should not inflict but prevent evil or harm from patients (Gelling, 1999). Therefore, it was important for Rxcellent to measure the potential benefits of Levelhedin against the potential risks to patients. However, the likelihood to cause injury is inevitable when one is trying to help, but it is vital for the medical researchers to ensure that the net benefit outweighs the possible harm (Gelling, 1999). Rxcellent intended to use levelhidin as a financial savior against losses incurred by their best selling drugs going off patent. Therefore, the company ventured in promoting its financial wellbeing at the expense of producing the best outcome for the patients (Limentani, 1999). The company found itself in an ethical dilemma in its quest to produce an effective medical alternative and to save its failing business. Therefore, the company failed to react in its best way when under stress highlighting the weakness of its system values (Mccoy, 1983). Corporate ethics is reminiscent to the Parable of the Sadhu where the mountain climber was left grappling with the guilt of leaving the Sadhu to be devoured by dogs. The parable illustrates the need of corporates to act on the right in the face of crisis to ensure safety and respect for others (Mccoy, 1983). Including the information that Leveldin was the possible cause of liver failure among its users would affect the company’s financial gains, which was on the brink of failing. Therefore, the company’s marketing department failed to pronounce the likely side effects of the drug, putting the integrity and the company’s ethical values at bay.


Non-maleficence advocates for no harm to patients for the use of medical products or medical services (Holm, 1995). Rxcellent was aware that Levelhidin was a likely cause of physical harm to the patients by causing liver failure, but they continued marketing the drug. Therefore, the value of the drug was hinged on the organization’s financial viability rather than on the wider background of the health requirements of the populace and care of the susceptible individuals (Limentani, 1999). By prescribing the drug, the physician-inflicted physical harm on the patients thus breaching the non-maleficence ethical principle. Rxcellent was aware of the risk of permanent damage, but it went further market the drug for financial gain, causing knowingly harm to the users (Gelling, 1999). Physicians should discontinue prescribing Levelhedin to the patients until the drug is proven safe for patients.


Patients should have the autonomy to choose the kind of care they want (Paul, Miller, & Paul, 2002). However, in most cases physicians are involved in the marketing of drugs hence they make decisions for patients whose capacity to make decisions is affected by the health condition (Lo, & Field, 2009). Moreover, coercion through marketing strategies affects the ability of patients to make informed decisions about the type of care that they want to receive (Summers, & Morrison, 2009). Patients should have the autonomy of will, action, thought for them to receive the right care when need it (Gelling, 1999). However, in the case of Levelhidin, the patients were coerced by the fact that the drug had better effects on the patients than other drugs in the market. Conversely, the side effects of the drug were lethal than the benefit the users were experiencing. To amend the possible crisis, patients should be allowed to make informed decisions by providing them with relevant information about the drug, enhancing their knowledge.


Medical researchers need to be just with their participants and the public (Berwick, Hiatt, Laneway, & Smith, 1997). Rxcellence failed to honor the needs of the patients by allowing financial gains to take precedence of the needs of the patients. The marketing department took advantage of the compromised health status of the patients to endear Levelhidin to the patients. The company should do justice to the public by communicating the connection between the drug and cases of heart failure among its users. 


Fidelity is an important aspect of the relationship between health researchers, physicians, and patients (Steinbook, 2007). Fidelity builds trust between the patients and the caregivers. In the case of Rxcellence, the trust between the company and its drug users is compromised by advocating for the use of the drug ruining the life of the users. Consequently, trust and loyalty will be ruined which will cause the company another financial slump. To avoid hurting the trust between the company and its customer’s, it ought to have done more research to improve the performance of Levelhidin instead of rushing to market the drug for instant financial gains.


It is important for medical research companies and physician to tell the truth about their studies even if the results will affect the profitability of the study (Presley, 2007). Rxcellence marketing department did not disclose the possible implications of the drug to its users. Moreover, the physicians continued to prescribe the drug to the patients in light of the recommendations by the FDA MedWatch that the drug was causing liver failure (Jones, 1997). Consequently, the company raised false hope to the users to the detriment of their health, contravening the Hippocratic Oath. The company should have communicated the truth about the implications of the drug to ensure that the public made informed decisions.

The increase in cases of ethical contraventions raises the question whether corporates should have a conscience. According to Goodpaster and Mathews (1982), corporates should conduct themselves in a way that conforms to the ordinary principles of morality. Therefore, organizations should not be exempted from being morally responsible just like human beings (Goodpaster, & Mathews, 1982). Organizations should make use of available information to make decisions rather than being profit oriented to the detriment of others. Ethical principles in the health care system are overlooked for different reasons. Undeniably, a financial crisis can prompt a medical corporate to sugar coat a product for immediate positive impact in the market. However, the worst thing is that human life is at stake and it is endangered despite the knowledge of the harmful effects of the drug. Moreover, when the users’ backlash sets in, the company will be put in a worse financial crisis than it could if it had taken more time and resources to improve the quality of the drug. Therefore, it important for medical practitioners to observe the ethical principles for the safety of the patients and sustainability of their health institutions. 


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