Short-term cures without heed to ethics have long-term side effects
Outlook Ethics professors in the world's business schools traditionally play second fiddle to the harder-nosed management science wonks. Somewhere down among the blackboard wipers in the academic pecking order.
But surely these unsung heroes deserve to be promoted this week, given how the pharmaceuticals industry has thrown up such wonderful examples of the damage short-term profit-think does when ethics and social considerations are left behind.
The cudgelling Pfizer has had from scientists, MPs and the media over its bid for AstraZeneca has been almost entirely based on its ruthless cost-cutting, plant closures and reductions in R&D spend. Suddenly, the company's closure of its plant in Sandwich doesn't look so clever. It may have saved a few million dollars – but if the political row it has now created proves fatal for the Astra bid, how many billions of dollars of US tax avoidance will it cost Pfizer in the long term? On a personal level, if he fails to pull off this deal, it could even cost Ian Read his job.
Meanwhile, GlaxoSmithKline's quick-buck enthusiasm for grabbing a share of China has returned to bite it where it hurts, too. We will have to see how Mark Reilly, GSK's former China head, fares through the country's legal system – he may well, of course, be innocent of all wrongdoing.
But serious financial damage by the scandal has already been done. GSK, which has admitted some senior members of staff have broken the law in China, has lost millions. Revenues from China in the third quarter of last year alone were down 61 per cent as doctors opted to prescribe rival manufacturers' versions of its medicines.
And that's before we even begin to count the legal costs. China's new charges are bound to attract the renewed attention of those tenacious upholders of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission, let alone our own – albeit less fearsome – Serious Fraud Office. Fighting these organisations takes a lot of lawyers.
GSK has faced such ethical scrutiny before, of course, paying $3bn (£1.8bn) in fines in the US a couple of years back for, among other serious ethical transgressions, bribing doctors to prescribe its drugs and promoting its antidepressants for use on children and adolescents.
The fines and lost revenues from ethical breaches can be counted in dollars and cents. But the loss of long-term goodwill among potentially important communities – Britain's scientists, in Pfizer's case – can prove even more costly.
Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'
Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance
- 1 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 2 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 NHS staff banned from drinking tea or coffee on the job because it looks like they're not working hard enough
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Isis releases first video showing the stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
Diwali: What is the festival of lights – and how is it celebrated around the world?
Nathan Cirillo: Final pictures emerge of soldier moments before he was shot dead by Ottowa gunman
Ottawa shootings: Terror strikes Canadian capital as attacks leave one soldier and one suspect dead
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
iJobs Money & Business
£350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...
120-150k: Accountancy Action: We are looking for an experienced CFO from a min...
£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...