Essay on Zambia and Politics

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Applying the Potter Box to Merck’s Actions
Regarding the Painkiller Vioxx

Rod Carveth, Marywood University
Claire Ferraris, Western Oregon University
Nick Backus, Western Oregon University

Abstract
In this paper we demonstrate how to focus an empirical application in reaching an ethical decision by working with the Potter Box, a model created by Ralph Potter as an analytical tool assessing the ethics of corporate decision-making, The facts emerging in news accounts regarding lawsuits against the pharmaceutical company Merck and its painkiller
Vioxx are analyzed for ethical consideration. Utilizing the Potter Box model, the case against Merck can be interpreted and studied in light of ethical considerations. The results demonstrate not
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We then describe the use of the Potter Box, as an analytical tool for assessing the ethics of corporate decision-making, by grounding the theoretical context and conceptualizing the four dimensions of the Potter Box. Finally, we demonstrate the analytically process using the Potter Box applied to the facts in the emerging cases against Merck.

Proceedings of the 2006 Association for Business Communication Annual Convention
Copyright@2006Association for Business Communication

1

The Case of Merck’s Prescription Drug Vioxx
On the day this paper was being submitted for conference consideration, Merck, the pharmaceutical company which made the arthritis drug Vioxx, was defending itself in the penalty phase of a lawsuit brought against it. On April 5, 2006, a New Jersey jury found
Merck concealed the dangers of Vioxx in a split verdict that gave one of two plaintiffs in the trial $4.5 million in compensatory damages.
This trial was the sixth for Merck. The first one ended on August 19, 2005, when a jury in Angleton, Texas, awarded $253 million to the widow of Robert Ernst, a 59-year-old
Wal-Mart employee and marathon runner who died after taking Vioxx for eight months
(the $253 million award will be significantly reduced because Texas law limits punitive damages). Merck’s fortunes brightened on November 3, 2005, when a New Jersey jury absolved
Merck of culpability in the case of Frederick “Mike” Humeston, 60. Humeston

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