- In your judgment, did Becton Dickinson have an obligation to provide the safety syringe in all its sizes in 1991? Explain your position, using the materials from this chapter and the principles of utilitarianism, rights, justice, and caring Becton Dickerson is one of the largest manufacturers of medical supplies, dominates the market in disposable syringes and needles.
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In 1986, Becton-Dickinson had acquired exclusive rights to a patent for a new syringe invented by Charles B. Mothball that had a moveable protective sleeve around it.
The plastic tube around the syringe could slide down to rarely cover the needle. Ms. Rockwood worked in a clinic that served AIDS patients, and she drew blood from their patients several times a day. After drawing the blood on this particular day, she transferred the AIDS contaminated blood to a retile test tube called a restrainertube by sticking the needle through the rubber stopper of the lest tube, which shewas bolding with her other hand. She accidentally pricked her finger with the contaminated needle. She is now HIV positive.
For removing this problem, on December 23. 1996, the U. S patent office issued patent number 4,631,05 to Charles B Mitchell for a syringe with a tube surrounding the body of the syringe that could be pulled down to cover and protect the needle on the syringe. As Mitchell noted in his patent application, those devices all suffered from serious drawbacks. One of them would not lock the protective cover over the exposed needle, one was extremely complex, another much longer than a standard syringe and difficult to use, and a fourth was designed primarily for use on animals. So, it can be said that Becton Dickinson has not an obligation to provide the safety syringe in all its sizes. The company decided to market only a 3 cc version of the protective sleeve.
For 5 years, Becton Dickinson manufactured only 3 safety syringes. Utilitarianism, rights, justice and caring: the principle of Latinityrequires that wherever we have a choice between a native actions or social policies,we must choose the one that has the best overall consequence for everyone concerned. Denton Dickinson had at least four other patents for needle-shielding devices.
- Should manufacturers be held liable for failing to market all the products for which they hold exclusive patents when someone’s injury would have been avoided if they had marketed those products? Explain your answer.
Yes, they should be. It is their legal and moral obligation to do so.
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