Biblical Contributions to Business Ethics

July 31, 2010

Dr. Vern Poythress, professor of New Testament Interpretation, and Dr. Galen Radebaugh, retired Vice President, Pharmaceutical Sciences, of Pfizer, recently penned an article on the Bible's Contributions to Business Ethics using several case studies.

The essay was presented at"Business Ethics Today" conference - co-sponsored by Westminster Theological Seminary and The Center for Christian Business Ethics Today, on June 12, 2010


How does hte Bible Guide us in the midst of business decisions? We have provided three case studies from the pharmaceutical industry that illustrate the consequences of decisions and actions by the company and government regulators. The case studies are:

  1. Eisai Medical Research, Inc., and decisions and actions surrounding the Marketing of a popular medicine for treatment of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease in late 2009.
  2. McNeil Consumer Products Company (a division of Johnson & Johnson) and the decision and actions surrounding tampering with Extra Strength Tylenol Capsules in 1982 and 1984
  3. McNeil Consumer Healthcare (a division of Johnson & Johnson) and decision and actions surrounding the manufacture of OTC drug products in 2008 and 2009

These case studies were selected because they are: current (Cases 1 and 3); well documented in public government records (Cases 1 and 3); in the press and widely known (Case 2); and in a state where decisions were made with defined consequences. They were also selected because the pharmaceutical industry operates within a framework of governmental laws, regulations, and guidance documents that are often subject to interpretation. Because the laws, regulations, and guidance documents are not always black and white, the industry must often make decisions about the "gray" areas. It is usually the gray areas that present the most difficult decisions, and where the companies spend significant effor "managing risk."

To help companies and their employees make decisions about the gray areas of the law and better manage risk, companies have created many internal statements and policies to aid employees in making the right decisions. Typically, they fall into one of two categories--Company Values or Codes of Conduct.

To download the entire article, visit Dr. Poythress' blog here