Friday, January 16, 2009

What, Me Worry? Lilly Fined Over Zyprexa, Should Be Fined For eRecruitment Inanity As Well?

In a story of a type all too familiar to HC Renewal readers, Eli Lilly & Co. on Thursday reached a deal to pay $1.4 billion and plead guilty to a federal misdemeanor charge over promoting an antipsychotic drug to treat dementia when it wasn't approved to do so. This involved promotion for use in the elderly including nursing home patients. "5 at 5" (for "5 mg at 5 PM to keep the sundowning at bay") was the sales pitch.

Lilly will take a reputational hit as a result, although like the Ford Pinto (a.k.a. "the barbecue that seats four") this minor cost of doing business (and the patient harm done) is, in the calculus of modern business, outweighed by the margins they attained for this activity.

Zyprexa's brought in more than $37 billion in sales for Eli Lilly since its U.S. approval in 1996, according to calculations made by The Wall Street Journal.


Here's my take on this from an entirely different angle. Perhaps the following email helps explain why the company lacked people on board who might have prevented this debacle.

In just about the most bizarre and inane recruiting email I think I've ever received, this unsolicited gem came in to my professional email account. This is at least the second time I received this identical message in the past few weeks:

To: (MedInformaticsMD)
From: Candidate Care [candidatecare@rightthinginc.com]
Date: 01/16/2009 06:34AM
Subject: Job Opportunity - Lilly

Dear MD,

I am a member of the Staffing Team at Lilly and I am writing to express my interest in your background and skills in regards to a position with our company.

At Lilly , we are looking for candidates who meet a specific and unique skill set. I feel that you may be this type of candidate and would like to discuss this opportunity with you further, and I encourage you to visit our website at https://jobs.lilly.com/index.cfm for more information. Lilly offers very competitive salary and benefit packages, commensurate with skills and experience.

Once you are at this website please select the category and what type of work you might be interested in. You can then select the position of interest and review the specific information about your potential new career

Applying online for this position would be a great first step. Shortly after you apply, someone from our staffing team will contact you to discuss next steps and provide you with more information.

Thank you for your time. I will monitor our database for your submittal and ensure you are contacted soon after.

Sincerely,

Lilly , Talent Acquisition Team

Please do not reply to this email


Problems I see:

1. Dear "MD"

Dear MD? How so very personalized and suggestive that this company values people. Perhaps, as in the recent U.S presidential election, it could simply address potential candidates as "that one?"

2. "I am a member of the Staffing Team at Lilly and I am writing to express my interest in your background and skills in regards to a position with our company"

"I" am a member? Who are you? What is your name? Are you with RightThingInc.Com (apparently some sort of eRecruitment outsourcing company -ed.) or Lilly? What do you mean by "A position?"

I'm listening, but ...

3. "At Lilly , we are looking for candidates who meet a specific and unique skill set. I feel that you may be this type of candidate and would like to discuss this opportunity with you further."

What specific and unique skill set? What "opportunity?" The link that was sent seems to be some sort of tracked hyperlink that merely sends me to Lilly's general eRecruiting site and search tools. If you mouse over the deceptive "https://jobs.lilly.com/index.cfm" hyperlink in the email it appears to contain some type of unmentioned, embedded tracking data for purposes unknown:

http://www.netrecruit.net/cgi-bin/CloakTrkr.pl?_siteGuid=spartner
&_smhid=2000961039010&_isa=Recruiter&_isaID=69481630
&oemID=RTI_1084&_redirencoded=https%3A%2F%2Fjobs.lilly.com
%2Findex.cfm&_txt=https%3A%2F%2Fjobs.lilly.com%2Findex.cfm


4. "Once you are at this website please select the category and what type of work you might be interested in. You can then select the position of interest and review the specific information about your potential new career."

Select "the" position of interest? The position of interest to whom? Them, or me? Is this a guessing game of some type? Find the hidden treasure? What the hell are they talking about? Did the person who wrote this speak English? Did they have a brain?

5. "Applying online for this position would be a great first step. Shortly after you apply, someone from our staffing team will contact you to discuss next steps ..."

Oh, really? How about if I apply for CEO? For Janitor? (or, how about Chief Corporate Honesty Officer?)

6. "Thank you for your time. I will monitor our database for your submittal and ensure you are contacted soon after." -- Lilly, Talent Acquisition Team

And who, exactly, are you, Mr. or Ms. T. A. Team? Perhaps your name is "HAL?"

7. "Please do not reply to this email"

Consider this post my reply.

HAL, will I also have to take some moronic online personality assessment test? And by the way, could you please open the pod bay doors?

Seriously, I've been involved in recruitment and hiring in both industry (hospital, pharma) and academia. This Lilly email has truly hit a new low for inanity, misuse of information technology, and more seriously the utter destruction of my ability to take a company that would issue such a message, or hire a contractor who did so, seriously.

I'm sure many smart and competent people of integrity would feel likewise.

It's likely hard to get good talent to prevent debacles over drugs when you present your company to the world in this manner.


What, me worry? Zyprexa is good for 'dem gorked out old fogies!


Additional thought: speaking of talent management, was anyone dismissed over the push to market Zyprexa for off-label use in dementia? If not, why not?

-- SS

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

The NYT's has an interesting take on this story:

Lilly Said to Be Near $1.4 Billion U.S. Settlement
By GARDINER HARRIS and ALEX BERENSON
Published: January 14, 2009

Zyprexa has generated more than $39 billion in sales since its approval in 1996, making it one of the biggest-selling drugs in the world.

And despite mounting concern about Zyprexa’s risks and the negative publicity surrounding the legal case, sales were $3.5 billion for the first nine months of 2008, 2 percent higher than in the first nine months of 2007. Prescriptions for the drug actually declined, but Lilly raised prices on the drug enough to increase its revenues.

This article also highlights how a group of doctors wanted to go public with the potential negative side effects of this drug resulting in legal action that cost one doctor $100,000.

$1.4B. A number I cannot fathom. It is not a part of anything I deal with in my ordinary life. $1.4B is larger than the stimulus package designed to get the US out of it's current economic mess, yet it is only 3.5% of total sales of this drug during it's existence $1.4B is 40% of sales for the first nine months of 2008 for this drug.

As mentioned, this is just the cost of doing business, and not nearly enough to send a message to all of those slick e recruited people this is wrong.

Steve Lucas

Anonymous said...

Correction: $1.4B is larger than specific parts of the stimulus package....

Steve Lucas

Daniel Haszard said...

Eli Lilly: Indy-based pharmaceutical company pleads guilty to promoting Zyprexa for unapproved uses; is slapped with $1.4 billion criminal fine, the largest ever placed on a U.S. company.

Zyprexa Claims being Stonewalled.
Where is the money going as many victim claimants haven't been paid yet?

Something fishy going on here?


Conflict of interest.

Eli Lilly promotes sales of their #1 drug (Zyprexa $4.8 billion year) that can *cause* diabetes and then turn around and make billions selling more drugs to treat the diabetes.


Eli Lilly's # 1 cash cow Zyprexa has been overprescribed and linked to a ten times greater risk of causing type #2 diabetes and increased risk of heart attacks.

Daniel Haszard Zyprexa patient who got the diabetes from it.
zyprexa-victims.com

MedInformaticsMD said...

This blog post is mainly about paradoxical and risible eRecruiting tactics. I will leave it to others to more fully address the Zyprexa issues.

Shaun Snapp said...

This accepting fines as the cost of doing business is doing nothing to dissuade pharma from doing this. Punishments need to increase and should include restitution to the victims. The government fell down on the job regulating, they should not simply get a payday for it. How about the patients?

Great article....this blog actually speaks truth. Please keep it up and don't water anything down.