CASE 3. Merck and River Blindness
Merck & Co., Inc. is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical products and services companies. Headquartered in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, Merck has over 70,000 employees and sells products and services in approximately 150 countries. Merck had revenues of $47,715,700,000 in 2001, ranked 24th on the 2002 Fortune 500 list of America’s largest companies, 62nd on the Global 500 list of the World’s Largest Corporations, and 82nd on the Fortune 100 list of the Best Companies to Work For.
In the late 1970s Merck research scientists discovered a potential cure for a severely debilitating human disease known as river blindness (onchocerciasis). The disease is caused by a parasite that enters the body through the bite of black flies that breed on the rivers of Africa and Latin America. The parasite causes severe itching, disfiguring skin infections, and, finally, total and permanent blindness. In order to demonstrate that it was safe and effective, the drug needed to undergo expensive clinical trials……
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