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The RotaShield Fix

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National Institutes of Health
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  1. Introduction
  2. The laboratories of Wyeth Ayerst
  3. The RotaShield vaccine and VAERS' discovery of a much larger rate of intussusception
  4. RotaShield: Not as clearly justified.
  5. the application of Kantian ethics for underdeveloped areas
  6. Conclusion
  7. Works cited

The field of biomedicine is wrought with ethical questions and dilemmas. As researchers and medical professions work to improve our quality of health, they must constantly evaluate the appropriateness of their efforts, especially when weighted against the experimental and the adverse unknown. Wyeth Ayerst, a prominent pharmaceutical company, encountered such a difficult ethical situation when they ventured to develop a vaccine to defeat rotavirus. Although their intentions stemmed from moral grounds, the progression of their work to put the vaccine into use forced them into an ethical dilemma. Wyeth Ayerst's case exemplifies how ethical considerations are necessary in the medicine and business realms, regardless of the nature of the situation at hand.

[...] Soon VAERS and Wyeth Ayerst concluded that RotaShield was responsible for intussusceptions in two in every 10,000 vaccine administrations By July of cases of RotaShield- induced intussusceptions were identified The CDC put the vaccine on suspension from their recommended immunization schedule, and the FDA placed RotaShield under an immediate safety review. Wyeth Ayerst was faced with the decision of whether or not to continue marketing the RotaShield vaccine. Any traditional company faced with the decision to continue production of their product would rely upon some form of cost-benefit analysis. [...]


[...] Since RotaShield would be much more connected to and essential for preserving life, which is a absolute duty in Kantian terms, the use of RotaShield is more clearly justified. The difference in the positive and adverse effects of the vaccine would be so great and have such a significant impact on the lives of those in underdeveloped areas (not just the health) that the risks of intussusceptions cases get trumped by the lethal reality of rotavirus infections. For underdeveloped communities, our duty to preserve life over health makes RotaShield morally allowable. [...]

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