According to Fierce Pharma, “Merck & Co. has dodged billions of dollars in U.S. taxes by offshoring profits on Keytruda, according to an ongoing investigation by Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee.” But what about Merck employees who recognize that this is wrong? What are they willing to do?
Sen. Ron Wyden said in a release that the U.S. made up $22.4 billion of Merck’s 2021 sales, though Merck reported just $1.85 billion in local pretax income. By contrast, that same year, Merck said an international pretax income of more than $12 billion from around $27 billion in global sales.
“That Merck located more than 85% of its profits in foreign jurisdictions in 2021 implies that the current U.S. international tax system created by the 2017 Republican tax law has encouraged and rewarded Merck’s shifting of profits offshore,” the senator contended.
Merck’s lawsuit against the Government is only suitable for Merck and its shareholders, not patients. Medicare is the US’s biggest buyer of prescription drugs and is paid for by taxpayers. We can negotiate prices with pharma companies, but this goes much deeper.
If I were an employee at Merck, I would be ashamed of my employer but let’s be honest here: pharma companies pay their people too well for them to rock the boat. I guess that not one Merck employee will confess that what Merck has done with profits and this lawsuit “is not moral or right”.
Too many within pharma are drinking the Kool-Aid about how prescription drugs save lives and help people overcome health issues, but that doesn’t acknowledge the fact that pharma, over the years, has determined that profits are more important than patients.
When I saw some questionable practices at my last employer, I tried to change, what I believed, was wrong. After months I realized that the only important thing was sales, regardless of how they were racked up. I resigned and gave three days notice, and I don’t regret it.
But what about today’s pharma employees? Do they have the moral spine to say, “This is wrong,” and take their concerns to management, or are they too in love with their paychecks? I think most readers know the answer to that question.
The industry needs new blood. They need people who understand the balance between being a business and helping society with our drugs. Until that happens at the senior executive level, companies like Merck will continue to stain our industry.