John Van Buren


Puerto Rico is not the most well known place to most Americans. The small island in the Caribbean is neither an independent nation nor a state, bur rather a commonwealth of the U.S. Life filled coral reefs surround the coasts, rainforests and lush vegetation cover the land, and an underground cave system and glowing bioluminescent bay fascinate all those that venture to them. These natural wonders as well as the vibrant culture are the primary aspects most people who are familiar with Puerto Rico think of. However, the main sector of Puerto Rico’s economy has nothing to do with any of these assets, but rather a pharmaceutical industry that was instilled within the island by U.S. federal policies not long after America’s acquisition of Puerto Rico. As a result of this industrial dominance on such a small island, the environment, people and economy have suffered. Disease of the people and the environment is quite evident as a result of toxic waste from factories. Focusing on history, economy, and sustainable business, this thesis explores the environmental, social and economic issues caused by pharmaceutical dominance as well as the interconnectedness between the three. Regulation on manufacturing must become a key priority within the government, the use of the abundant ecological services as the main energy source, the revival of agriculture, and the continued generosity of the people to share their love for the natural beauty of the island through sustainable tourism are a few recommendations to help Puerto Rico kick its “drug habit.”