off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

Religious duties, Business and professional ethics


A couple of years ago owner of one of the pharmaceutical companies who poses to be a very religious and pious man went to Islamabad with his Director of Marketing. When the time of prayer came, they went to a mosque and the owner ordered his Director of Marketing that he should also pray. The Marketing Director who had joined only few days ago did not like it and said that “it was not part of our service agreement. Moreover, to offer prayer or not is a personal matter between me and my God like all other religious matters, hence he should not be ordering me like this”. His Boss did not like it. He looked at him and then said, OK. Wait here and take care of my Jacket and Brief case which has fifty lac rupees in cash as I Am going to make Wazzu. At this, the Director Marketing said, on one hand you wish to offer prayers and at the same time, you have brought this fifty lac rupees cash to bribe the government officials. Why he was cheating the God Almighty as well. Do not you know that “Al-rashi Wal-murtashi Kila-huma Finnar”. Both who gives bribe and who takes bribe will go to Hell. His Boss clarified that offering prayer was my religious duty but I have to give this bribe because my files are held up and I have to do and remain in business. Without greasing the palms of concerned officials, I cannot get my job done and it will result in enormous loss. The conversation between both of them was certainly not in a pleasant environment and the Marketing Director realized that it won’t be possible for him to continue in this job.

On return to Karachi, the Marketing Director discussed the whole episode with some of his friends in the Pharma industry and said, he was very much upset and disgusted with the attitude of his boss and wanted to tender resignation. The advice he received was to wait, do not take any decision in haste, keep on working and try to find a job while in service which is much better than to look for a job sitting at home. He accepted the advice of his friends and continued working but the environment was not comfortable and friendly. After few months, he got a job in another drug manufacturing facility and resigned from his post.

In yet another case, the chief executive of a national pharmaceuticalcompany, it is reported was recently having discussions with his senior executive staff from the marketing department while planning for the budget for the next year. He asked the marketing department, how much money we spend on bribing the doctors by offering expensive gifts or travel within the country or overseas on pleasure trips excluding those visits which are sponsored to attend some medical conference once their presentation is accepted there. The marketing department came up with the relevant figures. The chief executive cum owner of this pharmaceutical firm, looked at it carefully, thought for a while and then said, “From now onward, let us stop bribing the healthcare professionals”. At this the Marketing Director is reported to have said, then we are likely to lose lot of business and our sales will go down. Moreover doing business will be very difficult in an environment where many other companies are engaged in all sort of unethical marketing practices? The arguments put forward by the marketing team failed to convince the chief executive who had made up his mind to do ethical business from then onward. Hence, he said, from now onward it will be the company policy not to indulge in any such unethical marketing practice and do business upholding professional ethics. However, when the Marketing Director insisted that they had already made some promises with some of the healthcare professionals who are prescribers of our various products, the Chief Executive agreed and said, OK you can fulfill the promises you have already made in the next three to four months but from then onward, forget about all this and he was prepared to lose the business that we get by bribing these healthcare professionals.

There are indications that now more and more people in the pharmaceutical trade and industry are realizing that unethical marketing practices are bad and they must come to an end. Those who are still very much involved in it also discuss it quite often. It is indeed heartening and one hopes that in the days to come more and more people in the pharmaceutical trade and industry will join this select group of few pharmaceutical manufacturers and it will grow. I remember while I was on a visit to Turkey along with a delegation of PPMA, chief executive of one of the Turkish firms had said, Pakistani businessmen should also think of spiritual gains besides monetary gains while doing business.” The advice from our Turkish friend needs to be listened to by all those concerned.{jcomments on}

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