Pharma CEOs mull industry "trust deficit'

We love it when pharma CEOs depart from their usual talking points about financial results and restructurings and pipelines, to wax philosophical on their place in the word. This week, we heard an entire trio musing on the state of the industry: Merck chief Richard Clark, GlaxoSmithKline's putative chief Andrew Witty (photo), and Pfizer's Jeff Kindler (photo). Some choice bits:

  • Pharma's equilibrium is "shattered," Witty told the Academy of Medical Sciences this week. To fix it, drug makers need to listen more--and talk more--particularly with drug buyers (about the true value of new meds) and with government. Pharma and regulators are "like two ships missing in the night," he said.
  • "There is a trust deficit we have to fix," Merck's Clark told The Star Ledger, when asked about lessons learned from the Vytorin controversy. "I think everyone has a lesson to be learned from this. Drug makers "may have to become more transparent" about their spending and their relationships with docs, he said.
  • "There's a lot of public concern about the pharmaceutical industry," Kindler told the Wall Street Journal. "But...everybody recognizes that you can't solve the healthcare reform problem without an innovative, healthy pharmaceutical industry. We have to be a part of the solution." He went on to talk about truth-telling: "It's important for the industry to communicate with integrity and to do everything it can do to insure the integrity of the data and the science."

Sounds like these guys are all picking up on the same vibe: communication, transparency, telling the truth. And that they recognize that the "shattered equilibrium" and "truth deficit" need to be fixed. What will they do to make that happen, that's the question.

- check out the Witty story in the Financial Times
- see the Clark interview in the Star-Ledger
- read Pharmalot's take on Clark's remarks
- read the WSJ's Q&A with Kindler

Related Article:
Say goodbye to Big Pharma's gilded age