There is usually a thin line when determining between legal and ethical issues. In marketing, the strategies used are mostly informed by legal and ethical considerations. The same is true when considering product safety and intellectual property. This means that there is a close relationship between law and ethics; however, it is the existence of the law that makes ethical values enforceable. In general, therefore, ethics are those values or rules of conduct that are created so as to guide a particular group of people while legality is something that pertains to the law. Ethics, in other words, should be contemplated within the legal framework to be enforceable.
In the marketing field competition tends to be high and, therefore, legal and ethical issues are important matters to consider for marketers because of the availability of multiple choices to the consumer. Hence it is critical for the marketers to adhere to corporate values based on moral judgment. In case of any confusion arising, a good marketer should try and strike out the difference between legal and ethical issues and come up with suitable solutions.
Persuasion and influence to the consumers are some of the marketing functions that are underlined by moral behaviours. This is where advertising as one of the marketing campaigns strategies come in. The process of communicating the products and services to the consumers is one of the functions of marketing. In this case, most organizations or companies make efforts to market their products and services in the most effective and efficient ways as possible; in other words, without crossing the lines of ethics or law.
Advertising as a marketing strategy is, therefore, an area that requires strict laws and codes of conduct especially on its contents and delivery aspects. Small companies may often fail to market their products or services in the most effective way due to issues of budgets, whereas large companies have the free will to spend large sums of money on their marketing strategies and campaigns. In this case, therefore, it may be legal to spend large sums of money on marketing campaigns but the issue that would arise would be ethical; the question would be whether the practice is ethical. This means that in as much as an organization adopts a legal practice the same is not necessarily ethical. There should always be a balance between the two.
In marketing, there are times when legal approaches fail to provide suitable solutions. In such cases, therefore, a question of whether moving forward would be an ethical choice arise. In considering ethical issues in marketing, it is important to note that an ethical decision should be legal, on one hand, and should meet the ethical standards on the other hand. Unethical practices result in damaging an organization’s brand name, for instance if a company employs people under bad working conditions and poor salaries or the employment underage children.
Ethical issues in marketing and advertising are, therefore, determined by individual factors such as age, work background, personality and organizational factors which include resource availability, economic condition and/or competition. For instance, it is an ethical practice to warn a consumer about the side effects of a product and also give them the correct instructions on how to use them. Otherwise it would be unethical not to do so and also illegal if the product results in causing grievous harm or even death. In other words if a marketing advertising includes a possibly harmful product, the marketers should warn the consumers of the dangers involved in using the product. As a result of the warning, the harmful product will be under control; this type of warning is known as de-marketing.
Ethical issues in marketing and advertising can generally be put into four critical perspectives; equality, justice, truth and freedom. On examining the issue of equality, marketers should at all times treat all consumers equally and without prejudice. For instance, in terms price, they should satisfy the consumers by pricing their products fairly despite their class, whether rich or poor. When advertising their products to the consumers, the marketers are under the obligation to provide true information in as much as it is upon the consumer’s free will to use the product; ultimately the truth is important because it is based on both legal and ethical practices.
It is the moral conduct of a company that generally navigates the minefield of the marketing industry successfully and come up with long term solutions for sustainable growth. Otherwise no law is able to bring a revolutionary change into the system. In marketing, therefore, several laws have been crafted for regulation. However, the level of adherence or compliance to them is quite low. Legal issues in marketing, therefore, include matters such as the use of the word ‘free’ which are regulated when doing promotions. The question that arises in this case is whether it would be safe to tell a consumer that a product is free. In addition, all marketing promotions especially online based marketing should be labelled as marketing and they should follow the rules put in place by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The legal and ethical issues to consider in product safety are important matters to discuss. This is because a consumer is protected by the law against harmful or dangerous products from the seller. It would be unethical and also illegal for a seller to sell his product to a consumer with knowledge that it is unsafe and he has not given prior warning. It is also illegal to sell to consumers products that are faulty. However, if the consumer had knowledge of the faultiness and decided to buy it anyway, the seller would not be liable but it would be an unethical practice.
On examining legal and ethical issues of intellectual property, it is important to note that intellectual property is an area of law that deals with protection of the rights of the people who create original works. As a result, this continues to encourage new inventions, technological work, artistic works and others that contribute in promoting the economy. The existence of the law that protects intellectual property, therefore, is a guarantee to the people that their creative works are protected. The mechanisms for protecting intellectual property in United States of America include trademarks, trade secrets, copyrights and patents. Some examples of ethical issues in intellectual property include plagiarism; where someone copies the entire work of somebody else.
If someone infringes on the trademark or copyrights of somebody else on bad faith then it is unethical. Legal issues arise when, for instance, the mechanisms for intellectual property are infringed in one way or the other. In copyrights, it would be a problem if someone copies somebody else’s drawings without their permission; exclusive rights to reproduce protectable materials that have registered copyrights is automatic and, therefore, it is illegal if infringed or used without permission. On the other hand, in trade secret, a person would be liable if for instance they use another company’s information that was a protected secret in their product. In patents, the US law allows a one year grace period to grant patents on application; if a person uses somebody else’s work without application for permission to use, then they would be liable.
There are different ways or strategies of promoting products or services in the marketing field such as the direct-to-customer is one of them. It includes promoting products or services directly to the consumers without using any intermediaries such as advertising the products using radios, magazines, televisions. Organizations or companies that practice this type of marketing strategy generally try to directly influence the buying decisions of the consumers. Strategies majorly used in this kind of marketing to promote goods and services for organizations include online selling or telemarketing and/or direct mail. These strategies are used worldwide to attract different people from all over the globe by using technological software, for instance, online selling uses internet applications such as Facebook or twitter among many others. It has a lot of benefits including improving the relationship and interaction of the sellers and the consumers, for instance, an organization that uses online selling interacts at a closer level with its customers because it is a two-way communication. Therefore, by answering and attending to the customers’ questions and concerns, a good rapport is developed.
Marketers that use direct-to-customer way to promote their products are often in a better position to know the effectiveness of their marketing strategies because they can track their promotions because they are aware of the exact group of people they are targeting. As a result, it is easier for the marketers to know when to drop lesser promotional strategies. In addition, there are numerous opportunities available for the marketers to be able to close deals with their customers because it is much easier for the seller to find out why a customer or buyer may not be too excited about their product probably because they may not have the money. They may, therefore, find ways to come up with solutions that will end up improving their sales. Moreover it is more advantageous because the marketers have the opportunity to provide the consumers with additional transactional options and hence it is easier for the consumers to buy products by making orders through emails.
Drug companies such as pharmaceutical use direct-to-customer (DTC) marketing to promote their drugs or medical products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the DTC by pharmaceuticals or drug companies. It, however, can be both detrimental and beneficial to the public health. The FDA, therefore, has the statutory authority to regulate prescription, labelling and advertising of the drugs. These advertisements should not be false or misleading and they should present fair balance of information. Some of the advantages of DTC used by drug companies are that they educate, inform and empower several patients. In addition, it also leads to reduction of drug prices because it encourages stiff competition among drug companies. It also leads to cost-saving by avoiding expensive surgical interventions. However, there are some disadvantages like misinforming patients because it may tend to omit important information. Patient may also lack the knowledge and skills to understand medical information that are provided. There is also unwarranted trust in the DTC marketing for drugs. The marketing strategy also tends to overemphasize the benefits of the drugs and promote new drugs before safety profiles are known. There may also be a risk of overusing the marketed drugs by the patients.
Compounding pharmacies are usually important in drug manufacturing and distribution. The FDA is also responsible for regulating most commercial pharmaceuticals’ manufacturing. Compounding pharmacies, therefore, refer to those physical pharmacies that have been given the authority to compound chemical ingredients into medical drugs capable of usage by patients depending on the prescriptions given by the doctor. The state is the main regulator of pharmacies including the community drug stores. There are laws regulations put in place in each state for the purpose of guiding pharmacies’ requirements and standards as well as addressing the issue of licenses for the pharmacists and other employees who work with them. These laws also give the authority to compound pharmaceutical ingredients into patient-ready products. If there are any issues or problems that arise with regards to compounding pharmacies, the FDA is expected to act with immediate effect.
There may be issues such as poor compounding that may result to serious effects and, therefore, the need to form a new federal regulatory scheme may arise. The FDA should be given greater power to control the compounding process so that it will be easier for them to avoid such effects. The FDA should be under an obligation to make corrections on existing regulations concerned with compounding processes where there is a possible mistake on the existing rules. It should also be authorised to look over the activities of the licensed pharmacists once in a while so as to make sure the rules formed are followed strictly. The FDA should also be given the power to adopt measures of the federal law; it should be allowed to give licenses to the pharmacies that compound drugs and control the compounding process so as to control drugs that are not in the market and which may be illegal or unsafe. The compounding process should not include copying drugs that already exist in the market due to copyrights with regards to strict protection of intellectual property.
Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that often prefers deeds that result in more good than bad consequences to the majority; choosing the right over the wrong. In the United States of America laws, intellectual property law is issued because of the supposed gain towards the progress of art and science. On examining the case of PharmaCARE’s use of the Colberian’s intellectual property, the same was unethical because the theory does not encourage a wrong doing. Rather it suggests the use of the better option among many choices. PharmaCARE did not put into consideration the effects or the dangers that came with the drugs to the people despite offering free and discounted drugs to consumers who were low income earners. It instead tried to justify their use of the Colberian intellectual property rights which is immoral in nature. The same act also goes against the beliefs of the theory of deontology because the theory perceives that everyone has a duty based on rules and, therefore, human beings have certain moral rights and duties and ethical choices made should be in line with them.
On examining virtue ethics with regards to the actions of PharmaCARE to the Colberian intellectual property rights, it is important to note that virtue ethics is a moral framework within which a good person is considered as the one who acts according to the virtues of character like wisdom or prudence among others and for the right reasons. In that strain, PharmaCARE did not follow this theory in their actions. However, the action of PharmaCARE goes in line with the ethical theory of care because its main goal was to help and support the Colberian individuals. My own moral ethics would, however, not agree with action of using Colberian intellectual property without offering the people indemnity through proper payment or the fact of not acknowledging that their actions were wrong. It was generally not right for PharmaCARE to deplete the Colberian resources and not aiding in rebuilding it.
Intellectual property has contributed positively to the American economy and its economic success globally. PharmaCARE has contributed greatly to this success and the economic growth of the country. It has taken advantage of the fact that America has a successful intellectual property system as well as a transparent legal system that is necessary in solving disputes. It is, therefore, clear that PharmaCARE benefited largely from the Colberian nation basically because of the fact that people sacrificed their lives and land. Despite this fact they did not compensate the Colberian people in any way. They should have offered them payment of reasonable amounts of money or would have offered them employment at the company. In addition, they should have come up with ways of rebuilding the nation by planting trees and restoring the Colberian environment that they destroyed in the process.
PharmaCARE is similar to CompCARE, another pharmaceutical company where it was discovered the drugs the latter were producing caused heart attack. Another company that can be compared to PharmaCARE is the Pfizer Company that was also faced with a similar situation. The shareholders of PharmaCARE as well as WellCo in a suit may ask for compensation for the price they gave for the shares due to the expected losses on its stock prices that may not be recovered. This would happen in an instance where CompCARE was sold to WellCo without them having knowledge of their products causing the massive deaths. WellCo would, therefore, not be answerable to the shareholders. Generally, shareholders when joining a company expect that the payment on their shares should be higher than the initial buying price.
PharmaCARE, therefore, did not live up to its brand because the products they produced resulted to many heart attacks that caused deaths. It should have carried out proper research before introducing the drugs into the market to make sure they were fit for human consumption and to avoid such problems. They should have taken action and stopped production immediately it was discovered that the drugs were dangerous and this would have been more ethical. By striking a balance between legal and ethical responsibility to achieve its goals, a company is assured of being successful. Federal laws are available to protect consumers and marketers have a moral responsibility to adhere to them.
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