Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

The Outbreak: Discussion Module

by Kari Kjos

This discussion module was created for a student discussion on the problem of developing pharmaceuticals for diseases that predominantly affect the third world. To do this, the module draws upon a case study written by Kirk Hanson, a nationally prominent business ethicist and executive director of the Markkula Center of Applied Ethics.

This module includes a PowerPoint presentation on global health, "The Outbreak" case study on developing countries and pharmaceutical companies, and discussion questions. The PowerPoint presentation gives global health statistics and illustrates the disparities in health care around the world. "The Outbreak" is a fictional case which discusses the outbreak of a new flu-like illness in a poor, developing country in Africa. The illness is resistant to conventional antibiotics, but responds to a new drug developed by a small American biotech/pharmaceutical firm. The case explains the challenges that the country's health minister and the pharmaceutical firm's CEO face in response to the outbreak, and presents patent rights issues.

This module was originally created to spark a student discussion on ethical challenges in global health in coordination with a lecture by Dr. Regina Rabinovich, the director of the Global Health Program's Infectious Diseases Development team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Rabinovich spoke about "Global Health: Taking Stock of 'Neglected Diseases'" on April 13, 2010 at Santa Clara University. Dr. Rabinovich was Santa Clara University's 2010 Gerald and Sally DeNardo Lectureship speaker. I hope that this module is a useful tool for preparing future discussions on global health, and will help continue this important conversation.

- Ethics Case: The Outbreak

- PowerPoint presentation

- Discussion Questions

- Op-ed: Taking Stock of Neglected Diseases

July 2010


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