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2007 Worthington Essay Prize

Worthington Essay Contest Prize Winners, 2007:


In 2009, researchers at the University of Texas College of Pharmacy developed a new medication, Betatriginal, for the treatment of depression. After a successful clinical trial, the drug was approved by the FDA and marketed as"Albetanow".

Albetanow has become the most-prescribed treatment for depression by an overwhelming margin. Doctors throughout North America and Europe have been enthusiastic about the new medication. Among the few side effects are mild headache, dry mouth, loss of appetite, periodic uncontrollable hiccuping, and hypomania--a condition of increased creative productivity. These side effects are seen in most users of Albetanow, but are not considered alarming by the medical community. Only one patient has died due to the use of Albetanow--a 24
year-old man who developed arrhythmia a few days after beginning treatment.

Some patients have complained of serious withdrawal symptoms when they have attempted to discontinue using the drug, including elevated blood pressure, vertigo, and drowsiness. There are no clinical data on the long-term effects of Albetanow, but it is presumed to be safe for life-long use.

You are the Vice President of Human Resources at a Fortune 1000 company based in the Pacific Northwest. Recently, the Board of Directors has mandated that all employees will be screened for psychological problems, and that anyone suffering from depression must accept psychiatric treatment, which in most cases will include a prescription for Albetanow. The company will cover all related medical expenses. Anyone who refuses treatment will be forced to resign.

You are expected to announce this new policy to the employees and organize the psychological screening process, but you are feeling conflicted.

Your own brother has suffered from depression for decades, but he began taking Albetanow a few months ago and you have never seen him so happy. He has lost weight; he's become more ambitious at work; and he's joined two volunteer organizations to stay busy on the weekends. It seems like Albetanow has really helped him, and you can imagine that it could turn some people's lives around.

But there is a question of ethics--is it fair to require someone to take medication? Your company lawyers have reviewed the policy and assured you that it is legal. Two other companies have already implemented similar policies, and their productivity has skyrocketed. (Surprisingly, nearly half of their work force was diagnosed with depression and have been prescribed Albetanow.) Several workers' unions have protested, accusing these corporations of abusing their employees' bodies with little concern for their privacy. Rumors of the new policy have already leaked within your company, and you have received many objections from outraged employees.

You have expressed your concerns to the President, but she has made it clear that the board is unanimous in its decision and can not be swayed.

You must decide what to do. There seem to be only two options:

1.) You can implement the policy.
2.) You can resign in protest of the policy.

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