Pfizer CEO Jeff Kindler (photo) won praise in the U.K. yesterday for lecturing his fellow executives about public trust. "At last an executive that gets it," the Telegraph reported after Kindler's speech at the annual conference of CBI, Britain's biggest business lobby.
Just what did Kindler say? Essentially, that executives need to get to work on revamping capitalists' reputation--even if their companies didn't play a role in tarnishing that rep. Companies have to do something to combat public anger or government might do it for them, he said. "If we fail to change, things will not be pretty," Kindler said (as quoted by the Telegraph). "And if you think you're exempt, you're wrong."
People think that "questionable ethics are the norm" and that "doing the right thing is considered quaint," Kindler said. That's not the sort of thing that makes Brits or Americans happy. "The backlash is real," he added.
Kindler isn't the first pharma chief to talk about regaining the public trust. Merck CEO Dick Clark (photo) told his colleagues at this year's PhRMA annual meeting that the industry has taken some steps toward that end, namely disclosing payments to doctors. But he exhorted them to do more. Maybe he and Kindler should get together and brainstorm.
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