TECHNOLOGY AND DECISION MAKING
Using the reading for this week read the fact pattern below and discuss the following ideas.
• How does this fact pattern show the various levels of decision making in an organization?
• Identify the organizational ethical decision that created the current crisis for Sycamore Pharmaceuticals.
• Examine and identify the current decisions that face Dominquez, Blake, and the organization. Using the appropriate decision making process for each level walk through each person and how they may decide their fate.
• Based on the reading suggest ways that the leaders might change the culture and values of the corporation to make ethical decisions.
• How could the leaders personally change their collective response to decision making in the future?
“Did you see the report on CNN last night, claiming Sycamore manipulated scientific studies on Osteoporin?” asked Cole Dominguez, as he rushed into John Blake’s office, quickly shutting the door behind him. “I can’t believe this has leaked out. If the FDA pulls this drug from the market, we can kiss next quarter’s big bonus goodbye,” he exclaimed. Blake had seen the report and had expected Sycamore, a global pharmaceutical company, to come under fire for promoting its popular rheumatoid arthritis drug, Osteoporin, for the treatment of other diseases like Crohn’s disease and lupus—despite negative scientific studies that challenged its effectiveness. However, the aggressive marketing campaign was well underway when the unfavorable studies came in.
Sycamore’s top management chose to suppress the unflattering findings and move ahead with a systematic marketing strategy that created an illusion of Osteoporin’s effectiveness and offered financial incentives to doctors for prescribing the drug even in cases where there was no evidence it would work.
John Blake sat back in his chair and nervously ran his fingers through his hair. He exhaled deeply and looked at Dominguez, saying, “We knew we were taking a risk, Cole, aggressively marketing a drug without scientific studies to back up our claims that it worked. The CNN report is only the beginning, my friend. You and I should expect to be called to reveal everything we know. Ethically, Sycamore is responsible for publishing reports on its drugs, even the ones that aren’t so flattering.”
Dominguez knew his position on the situation. He would stand by Sycamore management team and back them up, no matter what. He needed this job and knew he had been following orders. Dominguez recalled an e-mail from the CEO in 2008 that said, “. We should avoid publishing anything that damages Osteoporin’s marketing success. Do not report anything that is negative. Delay these reports as long as legally possible.” Dominguez wondered aloud, “Weren’t we just following orders?” Following the report on CNN, Sycamore’s communications department went on high alert and moved into crisis mode. Press releases and the corporate blog were issuing the same message to build credibility and put out the rapidly growing fire. In part, the statement said, “Sycamore is committed to the safe distribution of Osteoporin and the communication of medically or scientifically significant results of all studies, regardless of outcome.” Blake shuddered as he read the blog and glanced up at his frantic colleague. “You knew this was going to happen, didn’t you Cole? How long can deception like this stay under wraps? Don’t we have a responsibility to the poor man or woman popping that pill every day? They think it’s helping them. It probably isn’t. This just feels so wrong,” he said as he buried his head in his hands. Their conversation was interrupted by a knock at the door. Blake waved in the general manager, who asked if they would both meet individually with an FDA representative that afternoon to answer questions about their knowledge of the timing and content of the scientific studies on Osteoporin for the treatment of Crohn’s disease and lupus. Blake’s gut feeling was that he needed to be honest with the FDA, but he knew he would likely be fired or demoted if he didn’t support management. He also knew that pulling Osteoporin from the market would result in severe losses for Sycamore and the loss of a significant bonus for himself.