Journalist: To reconcile the need for profits sufficient to support new drug research with the moral imperative to provide medicines to those who most need them but cannot afford them, some pharmaceutical companies feel justified in selling a drug in rich nations at one price and in poor nations at a much lower price. But this practice is unjustified. A nation with a low average income may still have a substantial middle class better able to pay for new drugs than are many of the poorer citizens of an overall wealthier nation.
Which one of the following principles, if valid, most helps to justify the journalist’s reasoning?
People who are ill deserve more consideration than do healthy people, regardless of their relative socioeconomic positions.
Wealthy institutions have an obligation to expend at least some of their resources to assist those incapable of assisting themselves.
Whether one deserves special consideration depends on one’s needs rather than on characteristics of the society to which one belongs.
The people in wealthy nations should not have better access to health care than do the people in poorer nations.
Unequal access to health care is more unfair than an unequal distribution of wealth.
Explanation for Question 6
The journalist states that pharmaceutical companies have both a need for profits to support future research and a moral obligation to provide medicines to those who most need them and cannot afford them. In order to balance these requirements they have adopted a practice of selling drugs at lower prices in poorer countries. The journalist’s conclusion is that this practice is unjustified. To support this claim, the journalist points out that different individuals in the same nation have differing abilities to pay, but this consideration does not, by itself, establish that the pharmaceutical company’s policy is unjustified. The question asks you to choose the principle that would most help to justify the journalist’s reasoning.
The principle stated in response (C) connects the question of whether special consideration is deserved to personal, rather than societal, needs. The pharmaceutical companies’ practice provides special consideration based on the characteristics of one’s society, and not based on one’s personal needs. As a result, according to this principle, the practice tends to deny special consideration to some who deserve it (the poorer citizens of wealthier nations), while giving special consideration to some who do not deserve it (the middle class citizens of poorer nations). In this way the practice is failing to meet the pharmaceutical companies’ obligation to provide special consideration for those who most need the drugs and cannot afford them, and, in giving undeserved special consideration, failing to generate income that could have been used to support new drug research. The principle in (C) thereby provides strong support for the journalist’s reasoning that the pharmaceutical companies’ practice is unjustified. Thus, (C) is the correct response.
The principle stated in response (A) applies to balancing the consideration deserved by ill people and healthy people. However, the pharmaceutical company’s practice, and the journalist’s argument against that practice, concerns only ill people (that is, people who need drugs). As a result, response (A) is not relevant to the journalist’s reasoning.
The principle stated in (B) requires that wealthy institutions use some of their resources to aid those in need. This tends to affirm the pharmaceutical companies’ moral imperative to provide medicines to those who need them but cannot afford them. However, this principle gives no support to the journalist’s reasoning, which contends that the pharmaceutical companies’ pricing policy is not justified by this moral imperative.
The principle stated in (D) that people in wealthy nations should not have better access to health care than those in poorer nations, is a principle that tends to support the companies’ practice, because the companies’ practice is one that tends to lessen the health care disparities between wealthy and poorer nations. For this reason, (D) actually runs counter to the journalist’s reasoning.
The principle stated in (E) concerns whether an unequal distribution of health care or an unequal distribution of wealth is more unfair. However, this is a different issue than the one the journalist is addressing. Response (E) is thus not relevant to the journalist’s reasoning.
This was an easy question, based on the number of test takers who answered it correctly when it appeared on the LSAT.