Thursday, January 10, 2008

Nigeria: An example of risks of global business or risks of stupid business?

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With a little bit of help from places like FiercePharma, Pfizer may try to make itself look like the victim of "doing business globally". Well, I disagree, without any due respect whatsoever.

I come from a country, India, where you would be doing business "globally". Yes, we have an idiot for a health minister and what not, but more often than not, companies have been shoving business across the world to avoid regulations in "developed" nations.

And then, the rude awakening happens when the "developing" or "third world nations" "dare" to create a rule of law situation!!!!

While it might be true that meningitis can cause disease and disability in and of itself, here are a few things Pfizer needs to answer:

1. Did they do appropriate patient education or did they just let it slip? I am not talking about shoving oodles of legalese under patients' noses and forcing them to sign, but I am talking about encouraging doctors to use the utmost sensitivity to educate and warn their patients before allowing them to become subjects of any form of experimental studies?

2. Why wasn't (or Was) Pfizer proactive in suspending the trials as soon as things went wrong?

3. Pfizer does seem to promote aggressive abrasiveness when it comes to dealing with disgruntled patients. Yes, yes, we all know how expensive drug development is, and how torts are, but people "died" - as in, they went dead. Finito. Do you really think insensitive aggressiveness and playing a blame game with the Nigerian government is what the patients' families need?

Just take a look at how they are strong arming torts in the Celebrex case. Just today a NY Judge followed a SF judge in saying that the folks suing Pfizer do not have enough scientific proof that Celebrex caused heart attacks. While this may very well be true, this seems to be a problem for the FDA and Pfizer, not for relatives of folks who died. There seems to be something very disingenuous about the whole thing.

I don't understand how these highly paid individuals who lead large companies believe that brutal show of money force can solve problems that people deal with at an emotional level. It may be possible in the United States, but get used to it not working where Capitalism hasn't succeeded...yet.

Don't blame it on the "globe". Its not like people in Nigeria have no brains. They know that aggressiveness is what Pfizer uses and that is the only thing they will probably respond to. You should get used to the taste of your own medicine...sounds ironic for a drug company!

End the "holier than thou" attitude, Pfizer. You too FiercePharma - stop referring to Nigeria and the techniques of its people as "infamous".

Just try repeating this in China or India and see what happens. It does bother me now that the US seems to be the only country where such bothersome aggressiveness is tolerated.

And no, don't come back trying to educate me about the need to stumble in the drug discovery process. Its not like Pfizer's executives are out of their shirts. All they do every time something goes wrong, is fire a bunch of scientists. The company is doing just fine.

Big Pharma is mostly in trouble because it has grown too big too fast. The lesson of "global" business in the "21st century" might be that, you might actually have to look past mere cliches and actually pay attention to people's sensitivities around the world. Doing business across the globe will actually involve more than flying around in company jets on company credit...put those MBAs to good use!

Go back to Nigeria, apologize for your attempts to blink and make it go away. Take responsibility, and promise to act responsible. Both parties need each other and prevent companies from saying, "Pfizer ruined it for all of us".

Man, someone should invent the commonsense pill....

On that note, there are many non-practicing Doctors like Dr. Jarvis who are now "experts" in Lipitor or Biomedical Innovation who need to be weeded out:

Hippocrates must be spinning at the speed of light in his grave....

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