As an owner of shares in both Merck and Glaxosmithkline the following is very depressing reading.
Surely any rewards system should be encouraging cures to diseases not relief of symptoms. The appendix of the article is very depressing, are they truly this corrupt? I wonder if any of these people actually go to prison for their actions. The Limited Company encourages people to take risks they would not otherwise take in case of financial failure etc but surely when they start blurring the lines, especially when it’s peoples lives on the line, there must be some rule of law.
In 2008 Merck, Glaxo and Pfizer had a combined turnover of over $100 billion, a fine of a few million is like shooting an elephant with a pop gun, mild irritation but little cause for concern. The elephant continues on its merry way and soon forgets the sting on its ass. If you check out the first page of first page of Pfizers 2008 Annual Summary, they have a cute kid on the first page but do they give a damn about that kid or any other or is shareholder value the main driver. I know the company answer would of course being wrapped up in cotton wool and they would wax lyrical about how important people are but then why all the apparent corruption, the government fines. They cannot wash their hands of setting the wrong rewards system or crap managment, and I donâ€™t mean crap management ie they got caught.
One of the reasons I bought shares in Merck was the story in Tom Collins Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies about them helping with River Blindness, thatâ€™s a company I want to own a stake in. Donâ€™t get me wrong their financials are also a factor but every company has a social responsibility and Merckâ€™s actions in the River Blindess case was good evidence to me that they take that responsibility seriously.
Pfizer talk about putting trust back on the agenda in their 2008 report but then they all talk about Corporate Responsibility but is this just lip service ie we were naughty and we are cleaning up shop but really nothing changes. Do any of them realise that Corporate Responsibility is missing a word, â€œSocialâ€, it should be Corporate Social Responsibility. I personally hope that the big pharmaceuticals stop talking about Corporate Responsibility and start living it. There are few other companies that can have a bigger impact on our total well being than the big pharmaceuticals and if we let them get away with this sort of nonsense we will continues to have countries with an average lifespan under 50 for years to come.