Healthy Skepticism
Join us to help reduce harm from misleading health information.
Increase font size   Decrease font size   Print-friendly view   Print
Register Log in

Healthy Skepticism Library item: 16849

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: news

Howard L
Pfizer's Kindler warns against fueling public's anger
The 2009 Dec 2


Citizens are fed up with corporate, government ethics lapses, CEO says

Full text:

Three months after his company paid the largest criminal fine in U.S. history, Pfizer Inc. chief executive Jeffrey B. Kindler called on government and business leaders Tuesday to face up to the “real and legitimate anger” of citizens fed up with ethics breaches.

“If we fail to change, the future will not be pretty – for business or for society as a whole,” Kindler said in a keynote address to the Boston College Chief Executives’ Club at the Boston Harbor Hotel. “People have had enough, and the backlash is real.”

Kindler told the luncheon meeting of about 250 chief executives in the Boston area that a recent survey found two-thirds of the American people now have less trust in corporations than they did a year ago – and the decline in their faith in government and public officials has been even more drastic.

“When the majority don’t trust you, they will find a way to force you to change,” he said. These changes, he added, could include limits on businesses’ licenses to operate and might affect private-sector innovation.

Pfizer, he acknowledged, has had ethical lapses as well, capped by the $2.3 billion in fines imposed in September for the company’s illegal marketing of various drugs. The company’s $1.2 billion criminal fine was the largest corporate penalty in U.S. history.

“It was a real blow to our employees,” Kindler said. “It did not reflect the company we all knew.”

The government of Switzerland also fined Pfizer and two other firms a total of $5.7 million Tuesday for alleged price-fixing of erectile dysfunction drugs.

Kindler said he understood those in the audience who might wonder, in the wake of Pfizer’s own ethical problems, “Who are you to talk about trust?”

But he said Pfizer has changed. Golf trips, fancy dinners and tchotchkes left for doctors are now out, and there are fewer company sales representatives in the waiting rooms. Results of clinical trials are now posted for all to see.

Kindler also said Pfizer has been pushing for a stronger Food and Drug Administration, the federal agency that regulates pharmaceutical companies and approves new medicines. Regulators that are not affected by political considerations, he said, will help restore trust in the drug-approval process.

“How many businesses do you know that want a stronger regulator? We do,” he said.

Kindler said Pfizer also has been pushing for health care reform. He called the current health care system in the United States unsustainable.

“In the long run, I’m a big believer we must improve the system,” he said. “It’s ultimately good for our business.”

Kindler said in answer to a question from the audience that he could not predict the direction of employment at Pfizer’s Massachusetts research sites in Cambridge and Andover, but he pointed out that drug companies have cut between 130,000 and 140,000 jobs in the past year. Some of those cuts have come with three major pharmaceutical mergers announced this year, including Pfizer’s $67 billion buyout of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

Reductions announced this year hit local Pfizer R&D campuses in New London and Groton hard, with at least 500 losing their jobs. Pfizer just last month announced it will be vacating its former world research-and-development headquarters in New London within two years, but promised that its local work force of about 4,900 would survive largely intact.

“It’s a very, very challenging time for our industry,” Kindler said. “R&D has gotten very expensive and very challenging.”


  Healthy Skepticism on RSS   Healthy Skepticism on Facebook   Healthy Skepticism on Twitter

Click to Register

(read more)

Click to Log in
for free access to more features of this website.

Forgot your username or password?

You are invited to
apply for membership
of Healthy Skepticism,
if you support our aims.

Pay a subscription

Support our work with a donation

Buy Healthy Skepticism T Shirts

If there is something you don't like, please tell us. If you like our work, please tell others.

Email a Friend