ARE THERE ETHICS IN SCIENCE?

Poor Richard an175779 at anon.penet.fi
Tue Apr 11 18:19:10 EST 1995


Poor Richard is not a stranger to a law library, he finds that some
of the greatest examples of the depravity of man are contained therein.
Here is just one such example:

In 1975, a doctor (M.D.) working for Ortho Pharmaceuticals objected to
her boss to testing a new drug mixed with saccharine.  She felt that
the testing of the drug in this way would violate her allegiance to
the Hippocratic oath, thinking that this saccharine formulation might
endanger elderly persons or children.  To make a long story short,
this doctor was not only demoted because of her criticisms of the proposed
drug trials, but she was also forced to resign.  In the process, her
character was assasinated, by accusations of poor productivity, incompetence,
and inability to relate to Marketing personnel.  The latter accusations
are very familiar to Poor Richard.

Oh, incidentally, you might think that what happened to this doctor was
unjust.  The courts do not agree.  The courts in this country (because
the case has been used as a national precedent) ruled that
the doctor had no right to object to these or any other experiments and
had no right to sue.

If you want to look at the case (an thus don't believe Poor Richard)
read it yourself.  It is Grace PIERCE v ORTHO PHARMACEUTICAL CORPORATION,
Supreme Court of New Jersey, July 28, 1980, 84 NJ 58, 417 A2d 505,
12 ALR4th 520.

Poor Richard wonders whether others have seen this story in today's
New York Times:

ORTHO FINED $ 7.5 MILLION IN RETIN-A CASE

NEWARK, April 10 (AP) - The Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation was hit today
with $ 7.5 million in penalties for shredding documents to thwart a Federal
investigation into whether it was illegally marketing Retin-A acne cream
as a wrinkle remover.

Declaring Ortho had put itself above the law, United States District Judge
William G. Bassler fined the company, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson,
$ 5 million, the maximum, and also ordered it to pay $ 2.5 million to cover
the cost of prosecution.

Ortho agreed to those penalties in January when it admitted its executives
had ordered workers to shred thousands of documents.  The company pleaded
guilty to obstruction and corruptly persuading others to destroy the material.

Under the plea bargain, Ortho can not be prosecuted for how it marketed the
prescription drug, a synthetic form of Vitamin A.

Doctors are permitted to prescribe an approved drug for any condition, but
it is illegal to promote a drug for any use not approved by the Food and
Drug Administration.  The F.D.A. approved Retin-A for acne in 1971.

For many other examples of this kind of injustice see: The Whistleblowers,
Exposing Corruption in Government & Industry, by Myron Peretz Glazer and
Penina Migdal Glazer, basic Books, 1989.  ISBN 0-465-09174-1.

Poor Richard realizes that not everyone on the net is up to speed as to
how calamatous the recent erosion in scientific ethics has been.

Poor Richard also knows that it will take time for the scientific community
to come to grips with its internal menace.  But stringent solutions are
called for NOW, not later, when it may be too late...

Poor Richard knows that this has been the century of the solution to atomic
structure, to an understanding of nuclear forces, to a knowlege of the
intricacies of the chemical bond.

Poor Richard also knows that it has been the century of Mustard Gas,
Zyklon B, the hydrogen bombs over Japan and of Bhopal.

Poor Richard remembers that there was a Russian citizen, living in Vermont
who created a great furor by suggesting that the American system was
morally defunct because it relied upon law to provide adherence.  In
America, he suggested, that if people do not know they will suffer a
penalty for committing a crime, then they will indeed commit the crime.
(Perhaps the same thing can now be said for this great writer's own country).

Poor Richard wonders whether people would kill each other out of greed
or jealousy if they knew they would not themselves suffer.  Is it OK
to kill (as long as you are not caught, or if caught, not punished, or
if punished, not severely).

Give us your opinions, OJ.
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