Pharma CEOs' Big Question - Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

A growing number of pharma CEOs are now dealing with the consequences of failing to care about workplace realities and what Toyota called the gemba, or place where truth will be found.

If the idea of reading a book on ethics or philosophy is too off-putting....after all, it has been a rough week....why not simply listen to The Clash's hit song "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" The answer's right there. "If I go there will be trouble, and if I stay it will be double."  

What's to be done? Pack all drug company CEO's off to the plant floor for weeks of Toyota management classes?  I'm picturing GSK whistleblower Cheryl Eckard's attempt to call the company's then-CEO. Three years ago, Mr. Garnier responded to a question from a Bloomberg journalist, about workforce issues and operational excellence, by saying that these things weren't of interest to the public, who should care, instead, about the new drugs in the pipeline. In a previous interview, he described healthcare as intellectually satisfying, and important to the well-being of many people.  "You are changing the world..." Indeed, but the wonder drugs developed in your labs still have to be manufactured safely, so they don't actually harm anyone. N'est-ce pas?

The previous year, Garnier was quoted as saying, "If I admire anyone, it's the blue-collar worker who works hard to put his kids through college, retires and dies two years later." Where were you, Mr. Garnier, when one of your own white collar workers called you, concerned about these compliance problems? 

Atlanta-based attornies Alan G Minsk and Diana Rusk Cohen have used The Clash song as the jumping off point for a breezy article in the November 2010 edition of Law Journal Newsletters’ Product Liability Law & Strategy. Read it here.



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