Tuesday, May 07, 2013

BLOGSCAN - An Ex-Pharmaceutical Company CEO to Run the American College of Cardiology?

Marilyn Mann's blog discussed the appointment of a former pharmaceutical company executive, most recently at Actelion, and previously at Hoffman La Roche, Abbott Canada, Nordic Labs and Marion Merrill Dow (now known as Aventis), as president of the American College of Cardiology.  Although Mr Jacobovitz, who boasts a bachelor's degree in biology but no obvious experience in direct health care or biomedical science, was touted by the ACC as having "developed a strong patient- and customer-centered corporate strategy," Ms Mann provided documentation that his trajectory at Actelion seemed more money- than patient-centered.  

During his watch, Actelion was cited for not reporting 3500 deaths of patients taking two of its drugs to the US Food an Drug Administration (FDA).  Actelion blocked availability of samples of one of its drugs to generic drug companies, an action that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleged violated anti-trust laws.  Actelion purchased a company that was working on a drug that could have become a competitor to Actelion's most remunerative product, and then shut down development, possibly preventing a drug that might help patients from reaching them.  Finally, Acetelion's marketing practices seem to be currently under investigation by a US Attorney.   

One wonders why cardiologists would want such an individual representing them as leader of their premier organization? 

(Dr Wes wondered as well.)


InformaticsMD said...

Although Mr Jacobovitz, who boasts a bachelor's degree in biology but no obvious experience in direct health care or biomedical science, was touted by the ACC as having "developed a strong patient- and customer-centered corporate strategy," Ms Mann provided documentation that his trajectory at Actelion seemed more money- than patient-centered.

IO Mr Jacobovitz could do even a tenth of this I might vote for him.

-- SS

InformaticsMD said...

I should add that a former Pharma exec running ACC is perhaps no odder than a former McDonald's exec running Pharma.

As in my prior post, "D'oh! Makes sense to me!"

-- SS

Steve Lucas said...

The problem is this type of situation exists outside medicine, thus becoming the standard in other professions. I am currently dealing with an ordained minister who is an area supervisor, but came from the marketing department of a major IT firm. Their actions and attitudes reflect their background.

A local minister could be the poster child for Snakes in Suits, but since his persona is wrapped up in a sales personality the area supervisor is very supportive even with a loss of their members.

In yet another church the minister has, from the pulpit, declared they are not responsible for growing the church, or even a decent sermon. This church has lost one third of its members and once again is strongly supported by the area supervisor.

The air is full of logical fallacies and excuses all the while nothing is done to support the poor church members who shoulder on wondering why the denomination will not act.

After a similar incident several years ago I learned the sad fact that one third of people confronted with this type of situation will simply not believe there is a problem or blame those who raise the question. Much like HCR they wish the shoot the messenger.

We have lost both leadership and the vetting process in many of our most important organizations. We then see the blame being shifted to those poor folks just trying to make the organization viable and pertinent.

This is a larger problem than just medicine and does impact many of our most important organizations whose charge is to lead us in defining ethics.

Steve Lucas

Roy M. Poses MD said...

Gosh, the marketers and MBAs are now running religious institutions? Where will it end?

Steve Lucas said...

This usually ends in legal suits. The whole concept of an ethical responsibility has been dropped in favor of one where: Is it legal is not the issue, but will we be sued and can we, after expenses, still show a net gain.

The doctor seeing 70 patients a day and over testing and over medicating is rewarded with a higher income and thus more status than the doctor seeing 20 really sick patients a day. Only when a patient takes legal action based on a missed diagnosis will there be a change in behavior.

The minister who is asked to leave immediately asks for a buyout and positive recommendation leading to the famous; It was a bad fit letter. Ministers are quick to explain they are more than willing to take legal action to achieve these accommodations.

We cannot expect much more from our society than we have in the way of ethics when medicine, the clergy, and the law stoop to the lowest denominator when it comes to behavior. Sadly old line companies realizing the value of ethics have strong policies in place to minimize ethical issues while the professions do not.

Wal Mart does not allow any of its employees to accept any “gifts” from suppliers. A local steel mill had a person who worked in the mill transitioning from male to female and they installed a separate bathroom, along with taking the whole shift off line for sensitivity training, so as not to create a situation for this person.

This is a far cry from the doctor accepting gifts from drug reps or a denomination’s response to a question of a minister’s sexual conquest being: Was everyone over 18?

Steve Lucas

Roy M. Poses MD said...

I'm not so sure that "old line" companies have done such a good job on the ethics front either.

Aren't there serious allegations about Wal-Mart executives making bribes in Mexico:

Steve Lucas said...


No company is perfect and too often it is easy to be caught up in doing business the way the locals do business. I have no desire to promote Wal Mart as a pillar of virtue.

The big issue, as I see it, is over time many firms have found complying with the law to be of benefit in maintaining order within their companies.

Contrast this with pharma that considers legal settlements to be the cost of doing business, or with hospitals pricing:


My disappointment is that we have moved from a system of; what do we need to do, to one of, what can we get away with?

I view this ACC move as one more involved with “marketing” and “raised profile” than one that will serve cardiologist and the public.

Steve Lucas

Jennifer said...

The pharmacology industry in general resonates dishonesty and greed. I was a pharmacy technician but it was an incredibly negative work environment. It surprises me that a former CEO would move into the ACC field. I would like to follow closer and see how the organization progresses from here. Thanks for the information.