Posted by: Audrey Erbes | September 4, 2017

Pharmaceutical Contract With Society in Tatters

Drug Industry’s Contract with Public in Tatters

Merck was known as extremely reputable pharmaceutical company for most of its history. Merck CEO and Chairman Roy Vagelos pledged in 1990 to cap drug price increases at or below the rate of inflation. He later warned that high launch prices could destroy public faith in the industry. Unfortunately, Merck which was revered for being a top drug company fell into the industry reputation of other international companies with sole purpose of selling pills and vials and increasing shareholder value rather than helping patients live better and longer.

When I joined the pharmaceutical industry in 1993, I was proud to work in it because I could believe in the values and mission of my original employer Syntex known for its ethics and innovation. Other American companies shared in the society contract to improve health of our citizens at that time. I watched the industry change as the social contract with society changed to one of pursuing the highest ROI. Leadership shifted to MBA school-driven values focused on short-term financial returns with erosion of ethics. Requirements for MBAs were becoming more important than scientific knowledge and experience. I watched as leadership moved from research and development and legal backgrounds to those with business degrees focused on the ROI success. Many heads no longer understood our industry and its special relationship with patients and the medical providers.

This week’s Back to School issue of BioCentury contends that drug manufacturers, their managers and their boards of directors must acknowledge they are part of the problem, and change course. They must stop making choices that belie the industry’s claims that it puts patients first. “They must align management incentives with patient and public health, not just shareholder returns. And most importantly, drug companies must be seen to be improving access to medicines.

Source: Back to School: Breach of Contract at

Highlights of Bay Area BioScience Events for Week of Sept. 3, 2017

  • Bio2Device Group, Tuesday Morning, Sept. 5, 2017, Topic: “The Journey to Mars: The Next Giant Leap for All Mankind,” Speaker: Elizabeth Keller, Science Manager, Space Biology Project, NASA
  • AWIS SF, Wednesday Evening, Sept. 6, 2017, Event , Date and Time: 6:30 – 8pm, Wednesday, September 6
  • JLABS, Thursday Morning, Sept. 7, 2017, Event: Meet with…NCI and NHLBI, Speakers: Kurt Marek, Ph.D. | Deputy Director, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; Greg Evans Ph.D. | Supervisory HSA and Team Leader, Cancer Imaging/ Biology/ Control , SBIR Development Center, National Cancer Institute
  • MedTech Frontiers, Thursday Evening, Sept. 7, 2017, Topic: “From the Battlefield to Bedside: Expanding the use of endovascular resuscitation devices to optimize the care of the critically ill and wounded,” Speaker: M. Austin Johnson, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at UC Davis Medical Center and Co-Founder, 3Ci

You can download the details for the upcoming events this week and those through October 2017 with Audreys Picks Sept. 3, 2017. There is a Jobs That Crossed My Desk Through Sept. 3, 2017 also available in pdf.


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