During my senior year, I was lucky to have a few job offers to evaluate. The top two were from Johnson & Johnson and Exxon. As part of my research I looked at how each company handled adversity. For me it was an easy choice when I compared J&J’s handling of the Tylenol situation vs. Exxon’s Valdez. I was drawn by the impact I could make in people’s lives and by the industry’s reputation in general and J&J’s in particular.
But in recent years, our industry has gone though some tough times. We’ve have seen record FDA fines, product recalls and withdrawals as well as the erosion of consumer confidence. In my opinion executives at some Life-Science companies lost focus on the patient and began to concentrate on profits for Wall Street.
It is in times like these that we must reach for our roots and reflect on the legacy left by our industry’s founders.
In the August 1952 Time magazine interview, George W. Merck said “Medicine is for people, not for profits.” He went on “…if we remembered that, the profits have never failed to appear. The better we remembered, the larger they have been.”
In 1943 General Robert Wood Johnson wrote: “We believe our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses and patients, to mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services.” This Credo is still etched in stone at the J&J world Headquarters.
In 1899 Charles Pfizer said, “Our goal, has been and continues to be the same: to find a way to produce the highest-quality products and to perfect the most efficient way to accomplish this, in order to serve our customers. This company has built itself on its reputation and its dedication to these standards, and if we are to celebrate another 50 years, we must always be aware that quality is the keystone.”
In this post Sarbanes-Oxley era, I am heartened to see that our industry is once again putting patients first.
Let us remember to chase after the cures for human ailments, then and only then will fair profits follow.