Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Living in a glass house and throwing stones.


Reviewer: Peter Rost (Short Hills, NJ United States) - See all my reviews

Pfizer's CEO, Dr. Hank McKinnell has written an astonishing book in which he admits that he doesn't always believe in what he's saying [11], that drugs from Canadian pharmacies are safe [69] and that high US drug prices have nothing to do with past R&D expenses [46]. He also writes that "perhaps pharmaceuticals represent too low a percentage of total healthcare spending" [45] and he calls for "price controls to be lifted" around the world [64], because "It is time for Canadians and others to pay their fair share." [65]. He also calls for a doubling of drug patent life [185] which would result in a drastic reduction of new, low-priced generic drugs.

Dr. McKinnell starts his book with the surprising confession that he doesn't always believe in what he's saying. "They listened to my logic, but I could tell they weren't convinced, and to tell you the truth, I wasn't either." [11]

He also doesn't shy away from embarrassing facts, "Branded drug prices are anywhere from 25-100 percent more expensive in the United States." [50] He even admits, "Drugs from Canadian pharmacies are as safe as drugs from pharmacies in the United States." [69]

But his impressive mea culpa doesn't stop there. He slams everyone who makes a connection between drug prices and R&D. "It's a fallacy to suggest that our industry, or any industry, prices a product to recapture the R&D budget spent in development." [46]

Finally, in an astonishing intellectual somersault, Dr. McKinnell claims that "price controls always make prices higher in the long run." [64] And since he wants to give people lower drug prices, by eliminating price controls, he writes, "Starting with pharmaceuticals, I call for price controls to be lifted in Canada and elsewhere." [64]

Dr. McKinnell ends his book with a wonderful quote by Gandhi, for those who desire change. "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win." [193] Dr. McKinnell just doesn't realize that he has become "them."

Dr. Peter Rost is a Vice President of Marketing at Pfizer. The views expressed here are his own opinions.

[ ]: Page number in "A Call to Action."


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