On the heels of an article in which she ridiculed Bristol Myers Squibb for being out negotiated by Apotex, the generic drug firm which is producing a copycat of the BMS blood thinner Plavix and a previous article about drug reps in which she failed to disclose one her main sources was also promoting a movie and book about her life as a drug rep, Stephanie Saul has hit a “gag me with a spoon” low with this weeks article lionizing the chairman of Apotex, Bernard Sherman. I will spare you all the details but give you all the delicious irony…
“….The opening chapters of a draft autobiography sit amid the hundreds of pill bottles and mound of legal documents in Bernard C. ShermanÃ¢s office. It will be the story of a brainy kid born in Toronto who becomes CanadaÃ¢s richest generic drug mogul.
Though a work in progress, it has the makings of a page turner. One chapter will recount how an employee from a brand-name drug company offered to sell him secret files. Another, he says, will describe how Mr. Sherman caught a rival stealing the recipe for a blockbuster generic developed by his company, Apotex.
But what promises to be the bookÃ¢s most riveting chapter is still unfolding. It is the part where Mr. Sherman seemingly outsmarts two big drug companies, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis, to market the first generic form of the big-selling drug Plavix five years before its patent expires. And it could conceivably end with someone in jail….”
In jail? Gee, the last time anyone was tossed in the slammer in the pharmaceutical world, I think it was in 1989 after generic drug company employees were caught bribing FDA inspectors. Does Stephanie have any basis for asserting that anyone involve could be sent to prison? Any indictments? Convictions? Guilty pleas?
And as for illegality, it was Sherman (as Saul grudgingly notes) who was linked to a company that forked overr 500K for selling drugs illegally from overseas via the mail. A man ahead of his time. What a visionary. He tells our truthseeking reporting that he just gave the firm the drugs and didn’t know where they were headed.. Really.
Anyways, we also find out in this hardhitting piece that Mr. Sherman is CanadaÃ¢s “richest men with a net worth that magazines estimate at nearly $4 billion. He and his wife, Honey, give millions to charity each year. ” Somehow Stephanie has never mentioned (she had two chances) to note that BMS gives away hundreds of millions each year.
What does Mr. Sherman do for his dough? He launches lawsuits, Lots of them, in an effort to trip up a drug company on the soundness of a patent. He spends hundreds of millions a year in legal fees to make his money. A company like BMS has been pumping Plavix profits into new drugs for cancer, schizophrenia, arthritis, etc (I know, I know, spending money on marketing medicines too, G-d forbid)
All of which has nothing to do with why Apotex and BMS were dealing. Apotex launched a lawsuit to terminate the patent life of Plavix earlier than 2011. It was trying to negotiate money to cover the fines it would have to pay if the court ruled their lawsuit as without merit. And then at the same time he was writing Congress criticizing the sort of deals he was engaging in and explaining why — though his deal with BMS seemed like more the same, it really wasn’t. Stephanie takes this letter as proof that he was dealing in good faith. Or she puts it:
“The letter Ã¢ addressed to Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, and the Democrats Charles E. Schumer of New York and Herbert H. Kohl of Wisconsin Ã¢ accurately predicted that the refusal would come within weeks.”
Bernard Sherman, a prophet in our time. And in Stephane Saul he has found his acolyte and Boswell.