|Abstract: ||The interests of individuals and corporations are often in opposition. In the pharmaceutical industry, populations call for increased access to medicine and pharmaceutical companies defend their right to profit from their innovations. Recently, to address this dichotomy, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has developed as a concept bridging the gap between ethics and business, encouraging voluntary socially responsible action for firms to take on in respect of a duty towards society.
There is a need to define responsibilities in the issue of access to medicine: which actors should enact change and seek to enhance access? This research will focus on how pharmaceutical companies themselves are currently addressing access to medicine issues and paint a general picture of the industry as a whole, evaluating current market structures and prominent CSR discourse of firms. Health ethics arguments will be presented to outline moral behaviour of firms and will also serve to attribute responsibility to different actors, considering private firms’ as well as governments’ role in providing access to medicine. The research will lastly consider a way forward for this industry, by analyzing a common option –regulation, and a more creative one that would reshape the market –the Health Impact Fund proposal.
The results emanating from this ethical and practical discussion of pharmaceutical companies will show that firms have a responsibility to help due to their special knowledge and capacity, but that states ultimately preserve the main responsibility in guaranteeing access to medicine to their population. This research will also argue that firms cannot be expected to engage fully in CSR because the system only rewards profit-seeking behaviour. As regulation of the international pharmaceutical market is highly unlikely, this research will advocate for deeper reforms to promote ethical behaviour and reward firms that strenghten access to medicine. As this cannot be achieved through international regulations, an innovative approach such as the Health Impact Fund should be further explored, as it could increase benefits for all actors in the pharmaceutical industry.|