Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Johnson & Johnson

Guys like James Burke and Paul Janssen must be turning over in their graves.  Not to mention all those dead Johnsons.  Not to mention my old buddies Bob Kniffen and Roger Asperling (I hope they're still alive).

I used to closely consult with a number of Johnson & Johnson companies and the one thing you noticed about the average J&J employee was that she was genuinely proud to work for the company.  I was proud to have them as a client.

But manoman, have times changed.  Truth is, you could see them changing back in the 80s and 90s, starting with the successful sotto voce marketing of Retin-A for wrinkles (as opposed to the acne it was indicated for).  If you don't know, the FDA approves a given pharmaceutical product for a specific indication, but once it's approved physicians can prescribe it for any use they deem appropriate.  Sometimes this freedom is a good thing -- oncologists, for example, making cocktails of drug mixtures that end up saving lives.  Sometimes it's a bad thing -- when drug representatives (as ordered by their company) begin suggesting off-label uses for existing drugs despite medical research to the contrary.

Fast forward to yesterday when J&J pleaded guilty (sort of) to "improperly promoting" a drug called Risperdal, an antipsychotic, to both old people and kids.  $2.2 billion in fines later, the matter is largely closed.  You can read one of any number of articles about it here.  The operative quote from The Times goes ...

Federal officials said the company knew that Risperdal posed serious health risks for older adults, like an increased risk of strokes, but it played them down.

The mindset being that Risperdal was a huge seller for the company, and so let's not quibble about a couple of really sick old people here or there.  They're gonna die of something anyway.

Here's a picture of Alex Gorsky, currently CEO of J&J and formerly VP of Marketing for the J&J company that sells Risperdal.  I'm sure his success with Risperdal marketing was one of the key components in his rise to the top of the heap.

And while we're on the topic of shitheads, here's a photo of Robert Siler, the guy who was arrested after he ripped the head off my Uncle Sam.

May they both find themselves in the same rung of hell, when the time comes.

Actually, I take that back.  Mr. Siler didn't actually hurt anybody.  Hell, he may turn his life around, do some good.  I'm reserving judgment.  But Gorsky should go to hell.

I took a quick peek at the 2013 Fortune Magazine list of most admired companies.  J&J?  Nowhere to be found.  Back in the day, they were always on top.  Very sad.


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