I remembered years ago I was speaking to a Forest employee who told me how proud she was to be working at Forest because of how ethical the company and the CEO was.
That same employee was critical of me for talking to the WSJ about some of the less ethical practices that pharma companies have been using medical science liaisons – especially when all other quotes were positive – mine was the only one dealing with the abuse and misuse of the role. She felt that I should have used the media opportunity to “talk up” the profession.
I said that “talking up” the profession was what I’d done for all those years that I was running the MSL Institute. It’s time to “talk honestly” about what ails the profession so change can actually proceed.
I find what has happened with Forest Labs part of a lot of denial that some companies’ employees and executives experience when they see one thing but are told what they should be seeing.
If they oust the CEO, it will send a message to other CEOs at other pharma companies: “you’d better start hiring people underneath you who are capable of producing profit within the law, or you’ll pay for your bad hiring decisions.”
While it would be more poetically just to oust those who directly violated – firing the CEO is also part of the solution. The CEO’s job is to ensure that the people s/he has hired know how to create that ethical culture, not just talk a good talk but walking a different way when the feds aren’t watching.
After a while investors, who are always interested in protecting their investments, will catch on with the reality that golden parachutes are no longer a good deal.
Or is this too vicious of a cycle to ever catch up with the investors and the Street’s pocketbooks?