Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

Degree Level



Supply Chain Management


Worrell, Dan


A story that has to be told too often is that of the people who cannot afford lifesaving medications, and as a result do not survive. Doctor Nicky Mehtani says that the inability of a patient to afford their medication can be a common cause of death. This is an answer not accepted by grieving family members who have lost a loved one. It is estimated that more than a fourth of people in the United States needing medical treatment struggle with payment or simply cannot afford to pay for the lifesaving medications that they need (Mehtani, 2018). Deteriorating American business ethics today have led to both corrupt and illegal decision making by the pharmaceutical industry that leaves a lasting impact on American consumers. The Cornell Legal Information Institute defines corruption as “a dishonest, fraudulent, or even criminal act of an individual or organization, using entrusted authority or power to make a personal gain or other unethical or illegal benefits” (p. 1). Corrupt actions in the pharmaceutical industry erode trust in the business sector, weaken democracy, and hamper economic development and democracy. In addition to corrupt actions, companies within the pharmaceutical industry make illegal decisions often. This is an industry that needs reform due to human lives being at stake.

People across the globe benefit from the work of the pharmaceutical industry daily. For example, the discovery and production of insulin has saved the lives of people with diabetes. Prior to the discovery of insulin, diabetes was considered a death sentence. Discoveries such as this one are crucial to the treatment of life threatening diseases. Without modern age companies to research new drugs to bring to market to cure common health problems, the world life expectancy would be on the decline. This industry does work that saves lives of people around the globe, but in a dynamic space when considering business ethics. While the pharmaceutical industry helps create drugs that can improve life expectancy, eradicate disease, reduce pain and suffering, and boost the global economy, there is a lack of trust between the American people and the pharmaceutical industry (Burke, 2020). As an industry that is meant to help discover cures for disease and create drugs to promote public health, confidence in the industry should be high. In reality, the corrupt and illegal actions of companies in this business sector have created a low sense of confidence in big business.

While I recognize the necessity of this industry and all of the public good that comes from “big pharma,” the aim of this thesis is to dive deeper into the flaws of the pharmaceutical industry. Key stakeholders of the pharmaceutical industry include patients, the government, physicians, insurance providers, “big pharma” companies, and society as a whole. Understanding the industry's flaws is important because the public knowledge of corrupt pharmaceutical industry practices is crucial to combat unethical practices and in turn promote public health for the greater good of society. I do this through understanding how the monopolistic “big pharma” operates, analyzing the relationship between big business and government, looking into regulations that are in place about drug pricing and availability, looking at past cases of how companies’ actions have affected patients, and researching where the industry is headed in the future.


Corruption, Pharmaceutical Industry, Pharmacy, Business Ethics, Corporate Social Responsibility