Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 115–139

Private-Sector Research Ethics: Marketing or Good Conflicts Management? The 2005 John J. Conley Lecture on Medical Ethics


DOI: 10.1007/s11017-005-5289-5

Cite this article as:
Dresser, R. Theor Med Bioeth (2006) 27: 115. doi:10.1007/s11017-005-5289-5


Pharmaceutical companies are major sponsors of biomedical research. Most scholars and policymakers focus their attention on government and academic oversight activities, however. In this article, I consider the role of pharmaceutical companies’ internal ethics statements in guiding decisions about corporate research and development (R&D). I review materials from drug company websites and contributions from the business and medical ethics literature that address ethical responsibilities of businesses in general and pharmaceutical companies in particular. I discuss positive and negative uses of pharmaceutical companies’ ethics materials and describe shortcomings in the companies’ existing ethics programs. To guide employees and reassure outsiders, companies must add rigor, independence, and transparency to their R&D ethics programs.


business ethicsconflicts of interestcorporate responsibilitypharmaceutical companiesresearch ethicsscientific integrity

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Law, Program in Medicine and the Humanities, School of MedicineWashington UniversitySt. Louis, MissouriUSA