The news about the generic drug maker Ranbaxy Labs pleading guilty to felony charges related to drug safety and its acceptance of $500 million in civil and criminal fines created an unprecedented buzz in the world-wide web. The most incisive piece by far appears to be “the epic inside story of long-term criminal fraud at Ranbaxy.....” By Katherine Eban on CNN Money.
No horror story is complete without its share of seedy alleys, murky dealings & closed cup-boards that contain multitudes of hidden skeletons - this too has. Even as all the digging is indeed required towards a total expose’, the associated spill/ shoot-out of emotional rhetoric is threatening to harm the still-early but the strong trend of genericization of global medicare.
Can we raise above the rhetoric of branded drugs v/s generic drugs; first-world v/s third-world & address the core issue of why medical frauds happen & what can be done to plug these?
My Comment on the above article:
A very compelling narrative & an alarmingly scary proposition….
I fully agree with the majority opinion here that the consequences of a fraud this big should be equally big for the company in question. But again, I also endorse the opinion of a few others like Sam Werbalowsky, Dan Miller et al who have pointed out that Ranbaxy isn't a standalone case in the shameful history of pharmaceutical frauds & that the focus should be on ethical business of all Pharma & not just the generic players as Ranbaxy – It is important to underscore this particular aspect at this juncture since the tone & tenor of this otherwise brilliant piece makes it prone to being construed as a platform for demonizing the generic medicine vis-a-vis' branded drugs.
A quick look at the list of infamy here & here establishes that the common thread running through all is the disturbing trend of the best-of-the-organizations taking a call of preferring earnings over ethics at critical decision points. Another common aspect among all is the seeming complicity of a vast number of employees at all levels of the organization to misrepresenting a fact or manipulating an outcome. This shows that the problem is not just at the top decision making levels but is endemic at all levels of hierarchy & there’s this shocking apathy all through to what amounts to ethical behavior of an average worker/ employee in a pharmaceutical organization.
Given the complete insulation of an average pharmaceutical employee to the consumer-end of the spectrum & hence insulation from the consequences of any wrong-doing, I'm a little sceptical as to what will motivate these people to be vigilantes of public health & safety at their work place, pardon my cheekiness here, whether or not that involves whistle-blower benefits – THIS apparent lack of ownership of public health & safety in pharmaceutical manufacturing world is what I believe is the real core problem.
While there may be much creative reasoning & some complex solutions to the above core problem, I’d like to keep it simple & say that the reason is a lack of any formal sensitization of a pharmaceutical industry worker prior to or during his/ her employment on her/ his own accountability to public health & safety in general & the solution I hence propose is to instil this accountability in all pharmaceutical employees by way of a Hippocratic Oath that unfortunately is currently merely confined to medical practitioners & decreasingly so.
Food for thought.
Ref: my earlier post at: