Ethics and Pharmaceuticals: An Overview

People in the third world routinely die of diseases and conditions that are highly treatable in the west. Poverty, lack of sanitation and social structures are all contributing factors. One aspect of this conundrum is also the relatively high cost of pharmaceuticals. Third world countries simply cannot afford to purchase the drugs that would allow them to treat their sick. Who is to blame for this dilemma? Who should come to their aid?

Week 1: The Problem

Peter Benson, assistant professor of Anthropology, explains the issues he sees in the current state of the pharmaceutical industry in the west and how our "pharmaceuticalized" approach impacts the delivery of health care in the third world. (13-17 February)

Week 2: A Solution

Kit Wellman, chair of the Washington University Department of Philosophy, speaks to a possible solution. Wellman believes that pharmaceutical companies are in a unique position to provide medical aid to people in developing countries.  This position does not, however, obligate drug companies to act in any philanthropic capacity. He is currently working with colleagues like Thomas Pogge of Yale University on an initiative called the Health Impact Fund. (20-24 February)

Week 3: The Conversation

Moderator Carol Epstein sits down with Kit Wellman and Peter Benson to explore corporate and individual responsibility in these issues. (27 February-2 March)