Sunday, April 04, 2010

Looking the other Way

"One hand washes the other."  Latin Phrase (Manus Manum Lavet)

Apparently, its not just a phrase, but a way of doing business. The new corporate norm. It does not just stop at favors, but incorporates deeper understandings, and much bigger players at much higher levels.

Many people are familiar with the mega-giant drug company Pfizer, if for nothing other than bringing hope to the hopeless man, in the form of a little blue pill.

Last year, Pfizer expanded its operations by taking over Wyeth, cementing its position as the super-power of the pharmaceutical industry (a move that surprisingly was not questioned by the Sherman anti-trust law against monopolies).

This article which appeared on CNN describes one of the shadier aspects of business, soon to be taught in colleges and universities world-wide; "Pin the tail on the Scape Goat".

The article, cleverly titled "Pfizer too big to Nail", explores the controversy behind one of Pfizers products, Bextra, a painkiller unapproved by the FDA, and how despite this, Pfizer marketed it to "anyone who uses a scalpel for a living."

A manager in Florida e-mailed his sales reps a scripted sales pitch that claimed -- falsely -- that the FDA had given Bextra "a clean bill of health" all the way up to a 40 mg dose, which is twice what the FDA actually said was safe. - source

Why is Pfizer too big to incriminate? The reason behind my writing about it, are you familiar with the health care reform bill?
Why? Because any company convicted of a major health care fraud is automatically excluded from Medicare and Medicaid. Convicting Pfizer on Bextra would prevent the company from billing federal health programs for any of its products. It would be a corporate death sentence.

Prosecutors said that excluding Pfizer would most likely lead to Pfizer's collapse, with collateral consequences: disrupting the flow of Pfizer products to Medicare and Medicaid recipients, causing the loss of jobs including those of Pfizer employees who were not involved in the fraud, and causing significant losses for Pfizer shareholders. - source

Given the latest Health Care Bill, it would seem monumentally erroneous to chop the big red wood that provides health care to the masses.
So, the dilemma here is that, in the face of doing the right thing, you have to consider the consequences, weigh the potential benefits and harms, and make a decision based on that. Nevermind right or wrong, who is being hurt in the process, that is the key question now. Parents, take note, gone are the days where you tell your children to do the right thing regardless, the new norm now is to do what is best for the majority.
Pfizer did not come off scotch free, they were made to shelf out $2.2Bn in criminal fines and civil suits, a loss equivalent to a profit of 3 months...
The main points of the article:
Pfizer and the feds cut a deal. Instead of charging Pfizer with a crime, prosecutors would charge a Pfizer subsidiary, Pharmacia & Upjohn Co. Inc. According to court documents, Pfizer Inc. owns (a) Pharmacia Corp., which owns (b) Pharmacia & Upjohn LLC, which owns (c) Pharmacia & Upjohn Co. LLC, which in turn owns (d) Pharmacia & Upjohn Co. Inc. It is the great-great-grandson of the parent company.

Public records show that the subsidiary was incorporated in Delaware on March 27, 2007, the same day Pfizer lawyers and federal prosecutors agreed that the company would plead guilty in a kickback case against a company Pfizer had acquired a few years earlier.

As a result, Pharmacia & Upjohn Co. Inc., the subsidiary, was excluded from Medicare without ever having sold so much as a single pill. And Pfizer was free to sell its products to federally funded health programs. source

Moral of the story: Don't make friends, find scape goats.

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