PHARMA: Off label marketing and the 2008 election, by The Industry Veteran

For those of you bitter at not seeing enough of The Industry Veteran, he’s back! This time he’s complaining about Pfizer’s off-label marketing and linking it to the Presidential race. For those of you who’ve had too much of him…..sorry!

The daily press has obviated the need for Wes Craven, George Romero and other fright film creators.  Now we have this article from Brandweek where the chief counsel at Pfizer argues that the FDA violates free speech rights under the First Amendment by restricting Pharma companies from promoting their drugs off-label, i.e., for unapproved uses. Now I’m a big First Amendment guy, card-carrying ACLU member in good standing, but this is a libertarian perversion of the First Amendment that is typical of Reagan-Bush corporate lackeys. It reminds me of arguments from the right wing legal cabal, the Federalist Society, that claim the income tax is unconstitutional. Given that the client here is a Big Pharma company, it is also reminiscent of the fact that lawyers for Mafia dons are major proponents of Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. So this is how Jeff Kindler will deploy the lesson he learned at GE about making a proactive legal counsel’s office as big a success factor as R&D or marketing. Big Pharma is in the midst of a long down cycle and, I suppose, when the devil is hungry, he eats flies. That means while the literature in management studies has whittled down the value of Jack Welch’s contributions, a slavish aping of GE is quite the rage in Big Pharma. An  ex-GE guy (and former favorite son of Welch) runs Amgen, another is effectively the COO at Merck, and Jeff Kindler, whose only non-GE management experience was at McDonald’s, is the top guy at Pfizer. The epigones at these places talk about Six Sigma in the hallways despite the fact that production efficiency is a marginal success factor in Pharma. The other buzzwords that became parody and then were eliminated at GE ten years ago have now reappeared at the drug companies. What will come next? Polluting a major American river? Hell, Novartis already did that in Switzerland. I know. What about electing as US president some lucky airhead who was your television pitchman? Now if Mandy Patinkin is Jewish but not enough of a warmonger to please the Christian right, who does that leave? Dammit, Sally Field for president!! You want a strong woman, right? You want the women’s vote? You want to take issues such as health care, education and peace away from the Democrats?

I like her. I really like her.

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