Pharma needs to give the boot to McKinsey

SUMMARY: This month, McKinsey agreed to pay nearly $600m to settle claims that its advice had exacerbated the deadly US opioid crisis, yet pharma views McKinsey as business gurus. This has to stop, and NOW!

McKinsey is loaded with MBAs addicted to spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations, so of course, they know about patients and pharma? McKinsey’s recommendations to Purdue were directly aimed at extreme sales improvement, and the analysis failed to address the potential of specific incentives to increase addictive, destructive behavior.

Milton Friedman introduced the idea that maximising shareholder value should be a company’s primary goal. That led to an insane push for profitability at all costs and fines for illegal marketing became just a line expense.

So how do we fix this? By focusing on the “moral responsibility of enterprise”. Most of us work for a business, whether it has six or 16,000 employees. Business is not part of “the community” — business is the community. The pandemic and our increased awareness of racial inequality have only increased the need for business to understand that.

Financial Times · by Tom Peters · February 15, 2021


Four companies that agreed to pay a combined $26 billion to settle claims about their roles in the opioid crisis plan to deduct some of those costs from their taxes and recoup around $1 billion apiece.

According to The Washington Post “the deductions may deepen public anger toward companies that prosecutors say played key roles in a destructive public health crisis that kills tens of thousands of Americans every year. In lawsuits filed by dozens of states and local jurisdictions, public officials have argued that the companies, among other corporate defendants, flooded the country with billions of highly addictive pills and ignored signs they were being steered to people who abused them”.

When I first entered ethical pharma (that’s an oxymoron), the focus was on patients. Sure, there were sales targets, but Wall Street had not yet discovered gold within the industry. Then came the super blockbusters like Lipitor, among others, and pharma became obsessed with huge sales as Wall Street asked for more and more.

Every year pharma raises prices on their top drugs and then blames the complicated pricing system. To be sure, PBM’s are also making huge profits by taking a cut of the profits, but today’s pharma CEO is beholden to Wall Street. What about patients? They’re just a slogan in corporate headquarters lobbies.

How ANY pharma company could hire McKinsey is beyond my understanding. Their MBA’s with spreadsheets and PowerPoint’s have been the weight to bring and industry down.

I love this industry so much but am I the only one who keeps yelling that patients need our help more than Wall Street needs profits?