It’s quite amazing how big pharmaceutical companies like GSK use their PR (Propaganda) machines. GSK spends tens of millions every year trying to spin stories, create positive buzz out of negative headlines, twist fallacies into facts, influence the narratives around their company’s reputation, and basically pull the wool over everyone’s eyes in the process.
Edelman is but one part of GSK’s vast PR armory, and it seems that Edelman were viewing my blog earlier. Therefore, I just wanted to say hello Edelman, how does it feel to do the propaganda work for one of the most corrupt corporations on the planet? How does it feel to know that GSK has harmed tens of thousands of consumers with dodgy drugs like Seroxat and Avanida, including kids, babies and the unborn? Does Edelman have ethical standards, or do they just gladly take a fat cheque and say screw it to ethics, morals and humanity?
The 3 Billion dollar complaint which GSK settled with the the department of justice in 2012 contained some of the most devious, unscrupulous acts that I have ever read about. Or as Ben Goldacre would say, GSK were ‘rather badly behaved”.. yes in the sense that they possibly committed corporate manslaughter on a number of occasions. GSK went beyond bad behavior, way beyond it. We’re talking about smashing ethics into smithereens, literally every ethical breech you can imagine occurred in GSK’s insatiable appetite for profit, and this went on for decades. Nevertheless, Edelman, (in this article from 2012) sees nothing but the optics of this sinister settlement, they perceive angles that they can spin positively for GSK.
Seriously… .Do the Edelman execs sit down with work like this and say stuff like: “How can we make dead babies from Paxil look like a positive thing?”, “How can we make a criminal fine for GSK look like it’s doing good for humanity?” or “how do we make the biggest healthcare fraud/corporate manslaughter allegations in US history look like GSK are doing the right thing?”
Edelman, and the spin doctors who work for them, and everyone else on the GSK payroll (doctors, lawyers, execs), should be utterly ashamed of themselves.
They’ve all got blood money, and they’ve all got blood on their hands..
By owning-up, admitting it had done wrong and saying sorry, GSK has been seen to do the right thing.
Big Pharma Needs to Remember What It’s Mother Told It
In July this year GSK hit the headlines when the company agreed to pay $3 billion in fines and plead guilty to federal charges of illegally promoting off-label use of antidepressants and various other outstanding charges. Media coverage focused on the historic size of the fine but also found room to highlight some of the company’s excessive marketing practices (weekend “conferences” in lavish luxury resorts).
Now, you might think that this was a PR disaster for the company but in fact, it may yet prove to be quite the reverse. By settling a number of outstanding cases in one fell swoop, GSK avoids the constant drip-drip-drip of negative coverage which companies like Merck & Co have experienced with similar types of court case in the U.S. By being completely transparent and laying out all the wrong-doing of the past decades, GSK will not have to worry about new revelations damaging its reputation in the future.
By owning-up, admitting it had done wrong and saying sorry, GSK has been seen to do the right thing. It has drawn a line in the sand to put the errors of previous years firmly in the past. It’s acted decisively, swiftly and honestly. An editorial in The Times lauded the company for this and suggested that the beleaguered banks could learn a thing or two from GSK and might benefit from a similarly human and transparent approach.
It’s all too rare for big pharma to be quoted as an example to other industries in terms of ethical and moral behaviour and kudos are due to the senior management of GSK for taking this decision.
*Edelman works for certain GSK products in some parts of the world.
Carolyn Paul is the global mangaing director and European practice chair, Health. She is approaching her 13th (unlucky for some) anniversary at the firm and you can follow her on twitter if you can find her.