Merck and River Blindness
In 1978, it was estimated that 300,000 people were blind caused by river blindness and another 18 million people were infected with this disease (chapter 9). Parasitic worms that live in the small black flies that breed in fast moving waters cause river blindness, river blindness has affected many countries, some including Middle East, Africa, and South America (Merck be well, 2013). The two drugs known to kill the parasite had serious and fatal side effects. Dr. William Campbell of Merck’s research laboratories suggests that the use of ivermectin will cure river blindness. Although Merck was aware that there would be no profits to follow with this cure for river blindness, they knew it would be for the greater good of the people (Merck be well, 2013).
According to Trevino and Nelson (2011), on average it takes 12 years and $200 million in research (Chapter 9). To ensure the company’s future and alleviate human suffering, finite resources, such as money and time go to projects that hold the most promise in making the most money. Rare diseases bring about a very delicate issue, when a drug company stands to lose money from manufacturing a drug, which would be purchased by only a small number of people. In the Merck and River Blindness case, there were plenty of people suffering from this disease, which supported the research, according to Trevino and Nelson (2011), World Health Organization estimated that more than 300,000 people were blind because of the disease and another 18 million were infected (Chapter 9). Nevertheless, those people were from some of the poorest areas of the world (Latin America, Middle East, and Africa) making it impossible to pay for the medications.
A conflict with this issue was that ivermectin is a drug used for animals and was tested by Merck on its effectiveness to kill parasites and worms. It was found that ivermectin would kill both parasites and worms in horses, similar to the worms and parasites...