Quite deep it seems..
I have been drawing attention to this for several years, however it’s great to see the mainstream slowly wakening up…
Drugs Scandal: Under the Influence
The well-connected people on the board of GlaxoSmithKline did not stop a series of bribery scandals, writes SOLOMON HUGHES
BBC’s Panorama dedicated last week’s show to exposing how big British drug firms like GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) regularly made bribes and other payments to doctors to encourage them to prescribe their pills.
It was a good show, but didn’t say how deeply the British Establishment was implicated in these corrupt practices.
All the time GSK was involved in the bribery and questionable payments, they were directed by a board that included James Murdoch, son of Rupert, and Chris Gent, a Tory donor and adviser to David Cameron.
As Panorama revealed, GSK is facing charges of bribing doctors to prescribe their medicines in Poland between 2010 and 2012.
As readers of my column know, this is one of many doctor-bribing charges faces by GSK — Chinese authorities accused GSK of using a network of middlemen and travel agents to pay doctors to prescribe their drugs in a £2 billion scheme between 2007 and the present.
GSK admitted some of its Chinese executives had misbehaved. The Chinese case is ongoing.
GSK is also investigating claims that in 2012 it paid 16 state-employed doctors and pharmacists in Iraq to act as sales representatives.
These are all allegations, but there is a very strong reason to believe they are true.
In 2012 GSK agreed to pay a $3 billion (£1.7 billion) fine in the US for the illegal promotion of prescription medicine, including bribing doctors.
The Philadelphia Inquirer bluntly described GSK’s behaviour as “organised crime.” Its scams included entertaining doctors and paying them “advisory fees” to persuade them to prescribe drugs.
GSK also tried to get drugs prescribed for conditions not approved by regulators, like selling anti-depressants as slimming aids.
The charges also included fraudulent pricing of drugs to cheat Medicaid, the US healthcare scheme for the poor.
So the firm itself, and regulators, are taking the Chinese, Polish and Iraqi bribery charges seriously. If it did that kind of thing in the heavily regulated US, it seems likely it would have been as reckless elsewhere.
Fish rot from the head. If GSK was up to no good, its leadership must take responsibility.
This leadership are not anonymous bureacrats, they are men at the heart of the British Establishment.
For the past 10 years Sir Christopher Gent has been chairman of GSK. In 2009 David Cameron announced Gent would sit on the Tory leader’s personal “economic recovery committee.”
Gent is a long-term Tory activist who has given the Conservative Party around £110,000.
From 2009 to 2012 GSK had a new director looking at the firm’s ethics — James Murdoch. Announcing his appointment in February 2009, Sir Chris said he was “delighted to welcome James to the board of GSK.
His experience of global business, marketing and communications will bring a unique and alternative perspective to the board.
“He will also be an excellent addition to the board’s corporate responsibility committee, an area where he has shown particular leadership at BSkyB and News Corporation.”
So thanks to James Murdoch’s ethical leadership at NewsCorp, he was put onto the companies corporate responsibility committee — which would deal with issues of irresponsible behaviour, like, er bribery.
Murdoch quietly slipped off the board in 2012 “to focus on his current duties” at NewsCorp — duties which needed a lot of focus because of the scandal over payments to officials by News International staff.
Last week I said the British establishment was a bit like the Belgian thriller Salamander.
In this TV show, a top cop Paul Gerardi stumbles onto a secret organisation called Salamander, bringing politicians, businessmen and security officials together around a private bank.
A senator’s wife explains that Salamander is “a sort of interest group. They arrange appointments to high office [and] ensure each other’s companies win government contracts.”
The difference between the real Britain and fictional Belgium is our corporations buy friendship with politicians in the open.
Instead of having to run a conspiracy in secret, they just rely on their corporate takeover of politics being ignored.
It comes as no surprise to me that GSK has James Murdoch sitting on its board. GSK has a long history of corruption, misbehavior and corporate crime. White collar criminals run these sociopathic organizations. Just another day, another dollar… Another Drug Statistic.
Why James Murdoch Is Now a Headache for Glaxo
By Jim Edwards | July 20, 2011
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) CEO Andrew Witty is no doubt gnashing his teeth over James Murdoch’s testimony to the U.K. parliament yesterday on the phone hacking scandal at News Corp. (NWS). Murdoch has sat on GSK’s board of directors since 2009. Murdoch is on the two of GSK’s board committees, corporate responsibility and remuneration. He now looks like an unfortunate candidate for both those jobs.
In terms of corporate responsibility, Murdoch and his father, Rupert, repeatedly told MPs that their company was too big for them to know what was going on even at their flagship newspaper properties, or that they had failed to see when their lieutenants were misleading them.
Time and again Murdoch told the committee that important decisions — such as paying off celebrities whose phones had been hacked or doing internal investigations to root out wrongdoers — were delegated to lower-rung managers who then got things wrong or actively conspired to conceal the rot inside News. The company has 53,000 employees. They just can’t pay attention to the whole thing. James Murdoch said he didn’t even know whether the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office (the equivalent of the SEC) was investigating his division of the company.
GSK, however, employs 96,500 workers worldwide. Clearly, on the basis of yesterday’s questioning, it’s too big for James Murdoch to pay a whole lot of attention to.
Who pays who?
In terms of remuneration, Murdoch received $10.3 million in compensation in 2010 for being News’ CEO of Europe and Asia. Witty received only £2.3 million for being in charge of the whole shebang. How likely is Murdoch to begrudge Witty, whose company pays him $158,000 in annual director fees, a bump in pay?
Murdoch’s presence at GSK is becoming an issue among corporate governance geeks, such as Richard Northedge at the financial trade publication Director of Finance:
… shareholders might belatedly start asking what experience he brings: his whole working life has been inside his father’s empire.
GSK says it is sticking by Murdoch:
A Glaxo spokeswoman writes us to say that Murdoch has made a “strong contribution” to the board…and that “we believe that the full facts must be established and the ongoing investigations be allowed to take place and come to a considered conclusion.”
Still, Witty and fellow directors might want to change the PIN numbers on their voicemails, just in case.
“Of course, one may also argue that having a board member with experience in skullduggery has its benefits, but is that really a virtue?” Ed Silverman (Pharmalot)
Rupert Murdoch’s media empire is crumbling amidst the scandal of phone hacking and the collapse of the tabloid newspaper, the News Of The World; a controversy which has dominated news headlines across the globe. Meanwhile, questions and flags are being raised about his son, and heir apparent, James Murdoch, and his questionable association with British pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline.
I am sure it has helped GSK enormously having Murdoch on board. If you can control the media, its influence, and the output of its journalists, then you can control the propaganda. Well done GSK- another spectacular coup for you and the company.
Although, perhaps this demonic pact will backfire now, considering the entire British public is horrified, disgusted and appalled at anything that stinks and reeks of Murdoch?…
Interesting Times Folks..
Richard Northedge takes on corporate finance
What is James Murdoch doing on the GlaxoSmithKline board?
Nevermind whether James Murdoch should remain chairman of British Sky Broadcasting, how long before someone asks why he is on the board of GlaxoSmithKlein Plc (LON:GSK)?
Unnoticed amid all the headlines about Rupert Murdoch’s media empire is that his favourite son is a non-executive director of Britain’s biggest pharmaceutical company.
And if television is a business regulated by governments, so much more so are drug companies – not just in Britain, but globally. Including America. Pharm companies cannot afford to court controversy in their governance.
James Murdoch has been a Glaxo main-board director since May 2009. Yes, FTSE 100 companies tend to recruit their non-execs from the execs of other Footsie firms and James was chief executive of BSkyB before he became chairman. But shareholders might belatedly start asking what experience he brings: his whole working life has been inside his father’s empire.
The Murdoch son is a director of the Sotheby’s auction house too – and his day job is chief operating officer of the News Corporation parent. But it is his chairmanship of News International, the News Corp subsidiary that published the News of the World, that makes him controversial. He authorised the secret payments of up to £1m to the likes of publicist Max Clifford and former footballer Gordon Taylor in the hope of curtailing the phone-hacking scandal – payments he now admits were a mistake.
And after the resignation of Rebekah Brooks – and her arrest – James is now first in the firing line for questions about how that scandal was handled, both at the subsidiary level and at the parent when its share price started to slide.
MPs on the House of Commons culture committee will be quizzing James directly. But BSkyB’s independent directors are also reportedly asking whether he should remain their chairman – a role that was difficult when News Corp was bidding for Sky but which has become harder since.
True, James was re-elected to the Glaxo board in May with 97 per cert of the votes cast, but much has emerged about News Corp and its subsidiaries since. Shouldn’t investors now be asking what value his presence brings to Glaxo’s boardroom?
James Murdoch is still supported by GlaxoSmithKline
By John Stone
James Murdoch, the beleagured News Corporation executive, has received a ringing endorsement from MMR manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline according to Reuters news agency on Friday. GSK who appointed him to their board in February 2009 insist Murdoch has made “a strong contribution” to the group and received share payments worth $158,000 in 2010. Murdoch was appointed to the board of the pharmaceutical manufacturer with a brief to “review…external issues that might have the potential for serious impact upon the group’s business and reputation.”
Within a fortnight of his appointment News International had published at least 5 articles attacking MMR researcher Andrew Wakefield’s integrity (one , two , three , four and five ).
The accusations, while flawed, were devastating to Wakefield’s reputation. According to the Sunday Times, and its journalist, Brian Deer Wakefield was singly guilty of fabricating the data in the Lancet paper of 1998 although none of his 12 co-authors have ever repudiated it and one of them, histopathologist, Susan Davies subsequently wrote to British Medical Journal rebutting Deer’s interpretation of her evidence before the General Medical Council. Deer’s allegations were also based on his own inexpert interpretation of GP records which were never available to the authors of the paper. The allegations which were re-cycled by British Medical Journal were rebutted by Wakefield in his book Callous Disregard, and frequently in articles published on Age of Autism (AofA The Big Lie , AofA Time To Revisit Deer’s Claims , AofA Part 2 Time To Revisit Deer’s Claims ). In contrast to normal academic journal policy BMJ have adopted a legalistic defence of its allegations and (more here). Furthermore, they were forced to admit under pressure that they had undisclosed conflicts with MMR manufacturers Merck and GSK.
The Sunday Times campaign against Wakefield began in 2003 when section editor Paul Nuki approached Deer saying that he needed “something big” on “MMR” . Nuki was the son of Prof George Nuki who sat on the Committee on Safety on Medicines when MMR/Pluserix were first introduced in the late 1980s. Shortly afterwards Deer interviewed parent litigants under a false name. Unknown to Sunday Times readers Deer also pursued his own official complaints Wakefield and colleagues and came to an arrangement with General Medical Council lawyers that he would not be named in the case, leaving him free to continue reporting as if an independent journalist . Deer’s obtaining and use of confidential remains to be investigated. A statement on copyright on his website probably dating back some years states (my underlining.):
‘For reference, with regard to Brian Deer’s MMR investigation, almost all of the key facts and documents are not public domain, and, such is the culture of plagiarism, he will act against authors who represent his writing, interviews, documents, or other research, as the fruit of their own inquiries, whether referenced or not.’
In an article his website he also mentioned reading confidential reports in the MMR litigation and commented on them. When these issues were raised in British Medical Journal last year the journal took the step of removing several letters from its on-line correspondence, effectively banning all further reference to the matter from its columns.
The role of both BMJ and the News International in this affair require urgent official investigation.
John Stone is UK Editor for Age of Autism.
Should James Murdoch Stay On The Glaxo Board?
By Ed Silverman // July 18th, 2011 // 9:35 am
Media scandals enveloping governments are not the usual fare on this site, but there is an interesting aside to the Murdoch follies in the UK – James Murdoch, the 39-year-old son of the embattled Rupert Murdoch, is a member of the GlaxoSmithKline board. As you can see here, he is listed as a non-executive director, a role he has held since May 2009.
The Murdoch affair, of course, is all about bad behavior – charges that various employees in the Murdoch media empire in the UK hacked into phones belonging to families of murder victims, terror victims, police and politicians. Then there is the overlay of all-too-cozy relationships between the Murdoch regime and the highest reaches of the UK government, notably the prime minister.
What has any of this to do with Glaxo? Well, Rupert and James face increasingly harsh scrutiny. To wit, was there any adult supervision? Did the Murdochs knowingly condone hacking phones? And if they did not know, well, why not? All sorts of questions are on the table. And the scandal already runs deep and wide. But at its core, this raises a host of concerns about managerial skills, practices, philosophies and ethics at the highest reaches of the Murdoch empire, including James, who is chief operating officer of the News Corporation parent.
With this in mind, one wonders what James Murdoch can further add to the Glaxo board. After all, the pharma industry has its share of problems and Glaxo is no exception. The drugmaker paid a hefty $750 million fine to settle charges over production problems – contaminated meds, mislabeled packaging and incorrect dosages – at a facility in Puerto Rico and the feds say the investigation is ongoing (read more here and here). And a former Glaxo attorney was indicted for obstructing an FDA probe into off-label marketing, although charges against her were dismissed (look here).
The episodes underscore the need for board members who can offer useful guidance and not just about strategy, but also how to conduct affairs in a way that enhances corporate standing and builds needed relationships with shareholders, government, partners and patients. Consider that Murdoch sits on two committees – remuneration and…drum roll, please…corporate responsibility (see here and here). Of course, one may also argue that having a board member with experience in skullduggery has its benefits, but is that really a virtue? UPDATE: A Glaxo spokeswoman writes us to say that Murdoch has made a “strong contribution” to the board. “We believe that the full facts must be established and the ongoing investigations be allowed to take place and come to a considered conclusion.” What do you think?
Should Glaxo Ask James Murdoch To Resign From The Board?