Tuesday, January 17, 2012

From Kalman Applbaum: How Pharma Does Business

Thanks to my esteemed colleague Daniel Goldberg for alerting to to this post--
--by our old friend anthropologist Kalman Applbaum, for example as summarized here:

Dr. Applbaum, showing us once again that academic research is far from glamorous, is apparently camped out in a courtroom watching the unfolding of the whistle-blower case regarding the antipsychotic drug Risperdol, Janssen/J&J, and the various state Medicaid agencies, primarily Texas and Pennsylvania, that the drug firms attempted to influence (or more bluntly, to bribe) to assure that their own drugs were promoted to physicians by getting written into the official treatment guidelines. To get a full sense of the case see the earlier posts in this series by Dr. Applbaum.

This particular post may not mean much if you've not been following the case closely, so I cut to the chase by appending his final comments. Dr. Applbaum refers here both to his extensive experience in interviewing pharmaceutical executives, and also the recently settled case regarding another antipsychotic, Seroquel:

While the scale of the organization of deceit revealed in the Seroquel documents astonishes, what should strike us the most in the depiction of the implemented marketing plans is how routine they appear to be. The spectacle of the court trial is in this sense a distraction, since it focuses our attention on violation, on breach. But while the actions under investigation may be legal contraventions, they are not managerial ones. On the contrary, the marketing practices conform to business and organizational norms that are positively embraced as sound managerial principles.

Because of this, the most florid violations lie on a simple continuum with all pharmaceutical marketing practices. The prosecuted cases are distinguished, if at all, by degree and not kind with other examples. If for no other reason than that competitive pressures drive companies to behave in similar ways, one can guarantee that the marketing strategies and tactics for drugs of a single class will resemble each other. When Vioxx blew, industry watchers knew that the other Cox-2 inhibitors (Celebrex and Bextra) were potentially not far behind. When Zyprexa [Lilly’s SGA] was called to account, informed observers knew that the other manufacturers of atypical antipsychotics (of which Seroquel is one) were guilty of similar crimes, which would become visible if the opportunity arose for opening up their marketing records.

Dr. Applbaum heads this post "The Banality of Corporate Corruption" which probably says it all.


Michael said...

SGA = second-generation antipsychotic

I just did a Google search, so you won't have to.

Michael S. Altus, PhD, ELS said...

(reposted to include name/URL)

SGA = second-generation antipsychotic

I just did a Google search, so you won't have to.