1. How should Roy Vagelos think about this problem? What are some possible
approaches to take to framing what is going on here?
Ideally, Roy should think of different situations while making the decision. It is because
the decision he takes could play a significant role in saving millions in the third world nations
where receiving medications is still easier said than done. It could as well end his profession on
being one of the employees in the history who went contrary to the mission and belief of the firm
and destroyed the brand image of the company.
Therefore, it is recommended that Roy should tackle the issue from two different angles.
One of the recommended aspects to be followed is the core values of the firm and continue the
R&D activities of the drug so that the organization to be a primary contributor to saving the lives
of the individuals affected by the river blindness. Roy should also make sure that by taking this
decision, the firm will attract more investors (Shaw, 2016). The second approach Roy should
employ is providing all required information from his research group and provide possible
resources that could assist the company in funding the entire project. It will help them to work on
testing and manufacturing the drugs earlier enough. It could be against the firm’s reputation if
the R&D establishment fails to develop a drug.
BUSINESS ETHICS 2
2. Does Merck have an obligation to do something here? Does its knowledge create an
obligation to act? If so, does that extend to an obligation to spend between $100-200
million of its resources to help?
Yes, Merck does have an obligation to act swiftly in this circumstance since their value
proposition is all about “we are in the business of preserving and improving human life.” If the
firm does not follow the values, it will result in its collapse because of the problems it will be
Yes, it creates an obligation to act in this situation since if nothing is done when the company is
in a position to, it will indicate a morally erroneous and ethically imperfect firm. The firm is also
obligated to extend and spend $100-200 million of its resources and assist its people. It would be
one of the significant roles played by the company despite it not being the feasible solution in
this case as they might encounter a lot of loss.
3. What should be on Vagelos’ radar screen as he thinks about this decision? What
specific considerations should he at least note before he gets to a decision?
The reputation of the firm and wellbeing of the individuals consuming the drugs should
be on the Vagelos radar when he thinks about the decision. It is because it would play a
significant role in other business ventures that the business is into and planning to also venture
into. It is also recommended that he looks into the company’s financial constraint the moment
they commit to the project.
i. Which stakeholders should he think about? What is their interest?
The stakeholder as per me would be the victims of river blindness, Merck’s employees and his
partners in the research and development activities of the drug.
Their interest is to receive dividends and capital appreciation.
ii. What is at stake for Vagelos? How will this decision shape him and his
Everything for Vagelos are at stake and his decision will show the stand of the company. If he
chooses money over his customers’ health or take the risk of the invested money, his decision
will shape his character.
iii. Are there any specific principles that should factor into his decision-making?
The major factor in decision making would be would be doing the appropriate thing for the
4. What do you make of Merck’s mission? What, exactly, does it mean? How
important is it to your decision and why?
BUSINESS ETHICS 3
Providing innovative, distinct products and services that save as well as improve the lives of the
customers is Merck’s mission.
It means that they need to focus on patients and anticipating their needs, offer more access to the
drugs as well as improve global health (Trevino & Nelson, 2016). I disagree with his decision to
stop developing the drugs right away. I think the right thing to do is to continue carrying on
research and creating an excellent reputation for the firm.
5. Make a decision: commit to developing the drug now, or decide not to develop it?
[Note that with this latter option you are not committed to doing nothing: you can
opt to wait until you get someone to pay for it and then develop it later, or simply
share your discovery with others and let them pursue a drug. You are simply saying
you won’t commit Merck’s resources to developing the drug.] Make the case for
your decision: what are the most compelling reasons for your decision?
The question has two sides, but I believe that Merck stands to its commitment to its consumers,
and it has been of great importance to several people for a more extended period. It is accessible
to opt-out and stays far away from the problem. From my point of view, I think Merck should
commit to developing the drug and kicks off the process. The investment would result in a lot of
problems in the initial days, but I am sure that some of the investors would find it essential to
invest in our company. We never gave up during the hard times, and I am sure that within a few
months, we should have a new drug.
6. What does this case tell us about the challenge of putting business and ethics
This case clearly indicates that even during the bad times when we have to choose between
money and ethics, we should be doing the right thing and taking the right decision.