The corporate social responsibility of the pharmaceutical industry: idealism without illusion and realism without resignation

Bus Ethics Q. 2005 Oct;15(4):577-94. doi: 10.5840/beq200515440.


In recent years society has come to expect more from the "socially-responsible" company and the global HIV/AIDS pandemic in particular has resulted in some critics saying that the "Big Pharma" companies have not been living up to their social responsibilities. Corporate social responsibility can be understood as the socio-economic product of the organizational division of labor in complex modern society. Global poverty and poor health conditions are in the main the responsibilities of the world's national governments and international governmental organizations, which possess society's mandate and appropriate organizational capabilities. Private enterprises have neither the societal mandate nor the organizational capabilities to feed the poor or provide health care to the sick in their home countries or in the developing world. Nevertheless, private enterprises do have responsibilities to society that can be categorized as what they must do, what they ought do, and what they can do.

MeSH terms

  • Developing Countries
  • Drug Industry / ethics*
  • Ethics, Business
  • Humans
  • Patents as Topic
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Poverty
  • Private Sector
  • Social Justice
  • Social Responsibility*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations