A fish starts to rot from the head; as in Glaxo (GSK)

There is one industry that is booming throughout the world – and that industry is called fraud!

The pharma industry too is an integral part of this industry led by the Czar, Glaxo!

Almost exactly one year after being slapped with a $3BN “settlement fee” in the USA for bribing doctors, The British drug giant Glaxo is again facing bribery charges, this time in China. Chinese Police announced on 15th July 2013, after investigations spanning several months, that GSK have been bribing doctors, hospitals, medical associations and even government officials in order to get more GSK drugs approved and prescribed to the Chinese public.

Chinese police have accused British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline of channeling bribes to Chinese officials and doctors through travel agencies to boost sales illegally. What is worse, sexual favors were considered as a norm rather than exception!

More than $450,000,000 is said to have been paid by GSK into this bribery scheme since 2007, according to officials.

The Chinese authorities also accused and detained senior executives of GSK alleging the company funneled 3 billion yuan ($489 million) to 700 travel agencies and consultancies over six years to facilitate bribes and increase sales.

Can so much be spent without the connivance of GSK HQ at London?

All MNCs are bound by their code of conduct and their credo which is applicable to all the countries where they operate. Glaxo has its own own code of conduct too, but remains on paper – (please visit http://www.gsk-india.com/investor-employees.html#top and http://www.gsk.com/content/dam/gsk/globals/documents/pdf/corporateresponsibility/Policy-Code-Conduct.pdf).

“The purpose of this document is to state GSK’s Policy on the fundamental standards to be followed by GSK Staff in their everyday actions on behalf of the Company and to promote honest, legal and ethical conduct. Details relating to specific actions will be provided in the “GSK Standards of Conduct”, STD-GSK-001.”

This goes to prove this code is not taken seriously by its employees, just as doctors who do not remember the Hippocrates Oath they have taken.

A fish starts to rot from the head. As a Citizen of the World I call upon Sir Andrew Witty to submit his resignation or else Her Majesty’s Government should prosecute him.  

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Oh My God! Marketing of a Swami: God and religion are just a business proposition!

‘Oh My God’ adapted from a Guajarati play ‘Kanji viruddh Kanji’ truly is a must see movie. For many in saffron robes (and some in snow-white), God and religion are nothing more than a business proposition!  They spin a scam in the name of God and religion! The last Satpurush I knew attained Mahasamadhi in the early nineties of the last millennium.

What does a Satpurush do the day he becomes a sanyasin? He buries his Purvashram. What is Purvashram? Purvashram is the life prior to renunciation. Pre-renunciation family, teachers and gurus are no longer valid in his life now, post-renunciation: “relations from previous ashram” i.e. previous stage of life or the Purvashram is cut off. A genuine Satpurush may even perform the ‘SHRADDH’ of his living parents, his Purvashram teachers and gurus – the very day he renounces the world! This requires moral courage.

Why is Shraddh performed? To know this, let us delve into the the word ‘swami’. Swami means master; a ‘swami’ strives for the mastery over one’s smaller self and habit patterns, so that the eternal Self within, may come shining through. For this, the memories of his past life, especially the happy and pleasant ones, should not be a hindrance. A genuine ‘swami’ sets aside materialistic worldly pursuits, so as to devote his complete time to experience the highest spiritual realization, and through it, for the service of mankind.

Swamihood is much more than reciting Sanskrit shlokas or quoting the Bhagwad Gita in a charming, delightful and enchanting way. A sugar-coated tongue and eloquence in Sanskrit language does not make one a swami. But this definitely is a prerequisite, and a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) required for a charlatan to market himself as a ‘sanyasin-swami’!

Does a person really need to market himself if he is a true sanyasin?

NO!

But it is absolutely necessary when he is either superficial, insincere, artificial or has ONLY PRETENDED to ‘renounce’ the world for selfish motives. A swami who has truly ‘renounced’ the world will never have ‘moha’ for worldly pleasures like driving luxury cars. Remember Bhagwan Shri Ram and his ‘vanvas’?

This takes me back to the  ‘flying-swami’ in white robes, so called because of his romance with flying. At the height of his influence, the tall, bearded swami was regarded as one of the most powerful men in India and was even an adviser to Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister. But such people do fall from grace very soon. The ‘flying-swami’ was later shunned even by Rajeev Gandhi s/o Indira.

Like the ‘flying-swami’ I know of one ‘driving-swami’ – he has a penchant for driving luxurious imported cars at high speeds! He loves to drive them at speeds over 150 km/hour! His followers are enamored and go ‘gaga’ over his driving skills. One such disciple boasted that the ‘sanyasin-swami’ drove from Mt. Abu to Ahmedabad in less than three hours! Should a sanyasin be known for his driving skills or for being of one mind with God? This ‘so-called sanyasin’  has truly marketed himself very well and his followers have drawn a veil. Corporate Presidents, CEOs from banks, housing finance corporations, the IT companies, the pharmaceutical world and even high ranking retired officers from the armed forces have been charmed and captivated by him. They are his ‘devoted bhaktas’. Such is the strong hypnotic power of this sanyasin!

Hello Michael Schumacher and Narain Karthikeyan you have the traits of becoming a populist sanyasin or a swami!

A true swami will chase temperance and self-denial and not fast cars!

I know of another ‘sanyasin-swami’!  The height of his marketing pitch???  He addresses his followers as ‘uncles’ and ‘aunties’! So all the ‘uncles’ and ‘aunties’  are head over heels with him – excepted the enlightened ones.

It is the fake, bogus and counterfeit sanyasin who requires to market himself. Sant Tukaram, Sant Gora Kumbhar, Sant Kabir or Sant Tulsidas, Sai Baba of Shirdi never needed to market themselves.

I know of another ‘sanyasin-swami of a motley crowd of Hindus including all educated and others highly educated and a few very wealthy and filthy-rich! He respects ONLY the filthy-rich and the wealthy, and the influential and does not bother about the educated, highly educated (but not filthy-rich) devotees from amongst his followers. A corrupt and dishonest businessman was once his principal adviser and personal assistant for over eight years. They are now at logger-heads and meet each other only in courts. The dispute is over property running into millions of rupees.

This ‘sanyasin’ once made a statement that all his followers should shun politicians. A very noble principle! And lo! Just a month later in the house-magazine of his sect which his followers publish and read, there is his photograph , being entertained by – of all the people – the most corrupt Chief Minister of his state who is now cooling his heels in jail after being stripped of Chief Ministership.

While this sanyasin has all the time in the world for the filthy-rich, he will not even acknowledge the presence of the educated but  not-so-wealthy / filthy-rich devotees. On the other hand, he makes such a devotee lose self-esteem. He will break all the rules of his community to accommodate devotees who have a good cash flow.

Such a sanyasin truly needs to market himself – nay he will require a team of top-class marketing personnel as swamihood has to be reinvented!

Like the ‘flying-swami’, the ‘driving-swami’ is slowly falling from grace. Over 30% of his followers have already deserted him and many more are following suit. Many more at least another 50% are the silent majority who are not with him. And has always happens, the minority is making a lot of noise.

‘Oh My God’, where will he be three years hence?

सत्यमेव जयते – Generics Drugs in Rajasthan

The recent episode in ‘’सत्यमेव जयते by Aamir Khan has raised a mini-storm – the protests by the doctors belonging to IMA, the pharma companies and even reactions from the common man. The intentions of Dr. Samit Sharma appear to be noble.  Dr. Samit Sharma is medical doctor turned administrator (He is MD in pediatrics, i.e. a specialist in disease of children). The point he wants to drive home is that the poor in Rajasthan should get medicines at low prices, via the generic route.

Here in this blog, I am detailing to the non-pharma, non-medical populace, what exactly are generic medicines.

Introduction:

What is a generic medicine?  For instance, Crocin or Metacin contain paracetamol 500 mg. Crocin / Metacin are the brand names while paracetamol is the chemical or generic name.

So any product sold as “Paracetamol Tablets”, but without a brand name, becomes a generic medicine.

Most of the modern products originate from USA, Europe or Japan. When a product of original research is first marketed, it is patented. It is estimated that on an average a new product right from research stage to the marketable stage may take anywhere between eight to 12 years or even more.  According to PhRMA, the U.S. pharmaceutical industry’s advocacy group, it costs US $1.3 billion (in 2005 dollars) to bring a new drug to market, which also factors in the rate of failure. The patent may last for several years seven or more.  Once the patent expires, any company can market that product (of course they have to undergo rigorous process for that) and are called generics.

India before 2008:

What happened in India till the patent laws were strictly enforced in 2008? Our leading Indian companies like Torrent, Cipla, Ranbaxy, Sun Pharma etc. found a loop hole in the then existing patent laws and developed a process called ‘reverse engineering’. The patent laws in those days were for the ‘process of manufacturing’ and not the end product.  These companies, almost overnight, were able to synthesize the new product and market them in India, through a different manufacturing process, which was not patented. Nevertheless, very important, in terms of quality and efficacy it matched the original research product in all aspects, including bioequivalence. They were dubbed as ‘copycat’ products by the originators but were available to the Indian patients at costs almost 10% (not a typo error) of the original brand. And that is why the US-FDA and the US based big-pharma started fearing and even hating the Indian companies.

Dubbed by the US Big Pharma as ‘copycats’ ‘branded generics’ did well to serve the Indian patients till 2008, when the patent laws became more stringent.

By the definition of USA Big-Pharma, the leading Indian brands like Cifran (Ranbaxy), Domstal (Torrent) or Nexito (Sun Pharma) are branded generics. When these brands and the drug became very popular, the SMEs in India started selling ‘generics’.

These ‘generics’ are never promoted to doctors but only to retailers, not only at very low costs but also by offering ‘lucrative bonus offers’ (sometimes even five strips free on the purchase of  one strip – again, no typo). Their only strategy was to induce the retailers to substitute the prescriptions of doctors with these ‘cheap’ brands.

And here is the catch! If stringent quality standards are to be maintained how is it possible for such companies to offer products at throw-away prices?

In the pharma industry, quality is a function of many factors – from quality of active pharmaceutical ingredients called API. It is not just assay but also the impurity profile, shelf life (remaining period) of the API when used for taking a batch, the specifications and attitude of the management, not when a batch passes out but when it fails, as recirculation for production adds to the cost. A batch has to pass the tests even at expiry!

Then there are inventory carrying costs. These all need to be considered when a price is fixed.

This is where companies of repute and those with focus on quality get differentiated from others. Bio-equivalence tests done by these companies are very costly. The SMEs may neither have the resources nor the attitude, as this would certainly add to the costs. Therefore, for companies who maintain high standards of manufacturing and quality, it is not possible to give products at such throw-away prices, as is currently happening in Rajasthan today.

I am on the verge of writing a letter to Dr. Samit Sharma IAS, whose brainchild this is, requesting him to conduct bioequivalence tests of generic products sold in the generic shops with those of companies of repute in some good and renowned laboratories like Lotus Labs.

The biggest flaw in Dr. Samit Sharma’s plan is that now retail chemists will dominate the market – whoever offers the highest profit margins to the retailers, wins. and the retail chemists are hardly bothered about quality – only profits.

Lets hope that all genuinely keep the health of the poor in mind.

सत्यमेव जयते

 

 

 

Planet Health (Ahmedabad), Enron (USA) and Trust (Universal)

TRUST MATTERS!

Remember Enron?

“Enron bullied members of the Congress. it menaced the analysts afraid of losing investment business; it manipulated the media. it took California electricity consumers for a ride; it pulled wool over the eyes of its own employees. In the midst of all this, Enron headquarters was festooned with banners calling for integrity, honesty and good corporate citizenship”. (Ref: Bibb Sally & Kourdi Jeremy. “Trust Matters”; Palgrave MacMillan, Hampshire: 2004 )

Now you will also remember Planet Health, Ahmedabad, for almost similar reasons.

Planet Health is a chain of medical stores in Ahmedabad. Visit their main stores at Nehrunagar (Nr. Panjrapole Bus Stand). The shop is festooned with banners and posters cautioning the patients and customers on spurious drugs and banners which imply that all the medical stores in Ahmedabad sell only spurious drugs and genuine drugs are available only at Planet Health.

And this is how Planet Health behaves! I reproduce herewith a letter to their Managing Director, which will explain the reason behind this blog.

“Dear Ankurbhai,

It is very sad and unfortunate that Planet Health has started selling imitation products and that too, even to regular customers.

I have been regularly using Elovera Cream (Glenmark) for the past three years and purchasing it from Planet Health. If you desire, you can check my purchase records.

I normally place my orders via SMS and your people keep it ready. I just pick it up blindly or is arranged to send home. This time too I did the same.

On 17th April, Elovera Cream (Glenmark) was surreptitiously replaced, by a poor imitation local brand, almost similar in shape, packing, design and even the name ‘Vera’.

The packing is so deceptive that even a well-informed person like me could not distinguish it from the original Elovera Cream.

Its only when I opened the jar today, I realized that it is not the genuine ‘Elovera’ of Glenmark Pharmaceuticals!  Immediately on opening the jar, I noticed that an obnoxious smell emanating from the jar. Original Elovera Cream is free from any fragrance. It was then I examined the pack, the jar, and the manufacturer very closely, only to find that I have been dished out a poor imitation substitute of Elovera Cream. I was just stunned, that this was coming from Planet Health.

I never expected Planet Health to indulge in such unethical practises.

My neighborhood kirana type retailer would never have done this.

Trust matters a lot. My trust in Brand Planet Health now has totally eroded beyond repairs.

Thank you very much.

Vivek Hattangadi”

Friends, a similitude between Enron and Planet Health on the issue of trust!

Creating trust is an art. Sometimes we work at it, mostly we do not pay much attention to it – unless things go wrong, in which case problems and pain invariably result.

Would you ever purchase a brand on which you have lost trust? I have lost trust on Planet Health totally, more so after they refused to replace the spurious brand sold to me.

Definition of spurious drugs and per the ‘Spurious Drugs Act; 2008’ also known as ‘Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Bill 2008’

  1. The definition of a spurious drug is complicated to say the least. A medication which does not contain the correct amount of medicine, a product which is misbranded or one which is produced with a packaging looking like a similar high-selling product all come under the definition of ‘spurious’.
  2. If it is imitation of, or is a substitute for, another drug or resembles another drug in a manner likely to deceive or bears upon it or upon its label or container the name of another drug unless it is plainly and conspicuously marked so as to reveal its true character and its lacks of identity with such other drug;

Both, the photographs of Elovera Cream and the spurious imitation are appended. The spurious drug is so deceptively similar to the reputed and fast selling brand – Elovera Cream of Glenmark.

Notice how deceptively similar is the spurious product dished out by Planet Health 

to 

Friends, this blog is basically to create awareness amongst the citizens of India on the spurious and imitation drugs available in the market. Whenever you buy medicines, do not go by who is the seller – DO NOT HAVE BLIND FAITH ON ANYONE.Take the following precautions:

1. See whether the drug which has been billed matches word-to-w0rd with the prescription. When in doubt, call back on the doctor.

2. If it is a repeat purchase, do not go by the pack design, strip design – see the brand name.

3. Check expiry date and date of manufacturing, even if you are purchasing it from so-called big-names. Shun the drug if it is nearing expiry.

4. Do not be misled by similar sounding names. The ingredients could be different.

5. If one is on chronic therapy, like hypertension, cardiovascular ailments, epilepsy, diabetes and many more, do not change the brand for a cheaper substitute. They may not be bio-equivalent.

6. Be more careful with antibiotics as chances of substitution are very high here because of the various schemes and monetary gains offered by the low-end pharma companies.

7. Also talk to your doctor and get a prescription from renowned and national level companies rather then companies which operate in one or  two states.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

On 24th April 2012, on the auspicious occasion of  अक्षय तृतीया, I have launched a viral campaign against spurious drugs. I am sure you too will join this campaign against spurious drugs / imitation drugs.

Please see the latest news in Pharmabiz

SPURIOUS DRUGS & THE ACT

P A Francis (Editor Pharmabiz)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The Centre had notified the Drugs & Cosmetics (Amendment) Act, also known as Spurious Drugs Act, in 2008 with great expectations of curbing the menace of manufacturing and sales of spurious drugs in the country. This illegal business, an organized and nationwide criminal activity supported by certain powerful vested interests, has been challenging drug control administration in the country for several years in the absence of effective provisions in the D&C Act. Now, after several years of debate, a bill amending the D&C Act with some key provisions to eliminate this menace has been passed by the Parliament in November 2008. The amended law contains stringent provisions such as a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Rs. 10 lakh for those engaged in the manufacturing  of fake drugs. There are similar punishments provided for prosecuting members of the pharmaceuitcal trade also. The amended Act is somewhat comprehensive in tackling the menace and the drug inspectors have been given adequate powers to enforce the Act. It has  provision of making the offences cognizable and non bailable. One of the main hurdles faced by state drug control departments has been the inordinate delays in prosecuting the offenders. The provision to have special courts to handle spurious drug cases in the new law is thus very significant and could prove to be a powerful deterrent. Industry and trade, however, have been objecting to these stringent provisions on fears that drug control officials may misuse them leading to harassment of their members. Their concern cannot be totally ignored considering the kind of corruption exists in most state government offices today.

 

 

Wasteful practices in Hindu society – Showering of Akshatas

The history of India i.e. Hindustan is riddled with people who took the innocent Hindus for a long ride in the name of ‘God’ and / or  ‘God’s Wrath’. Hindus got attracted towards other religions and ultimately resulted in the trifurcation of our once-upon-a-time great county.

The priests and the Brahmins took advantage of illiteracy of the general public and spread superstition, ignorance and wasteful ideas for personal gains. Like for instance, even at the beginning of the 20th century, traveling across the seas was considered an ‘anti-Hindu act’ and people were excommunicated.  As a result, a once great country remained backward while the other countries progressed. Untouchability, Sati, disrespect to women, particularly the widows, child-marriages and ‘chatur varna’, were just  few more of the iniquities pervading in Hindu society. Besides, Hindu society indulged in a lot of other wasteful activities like pouring milk on the images of Gods, not caring for so many infants who went without milk.

One more wasteful activity which continues even today is the use of ‘akshatas’.

Unbroken rice grains when smeared with kumkum / sindoor (vermillion) constitutes the red akshata. Since the principal constituent of kumkum is red lead (Pb3O4), zinc or other synthetic dyes, this process of converting rice grains to akshata renders the rice grains inedible.Some manufacturers of kumkum use Rhodamine B dye, which can induce hereditary disorders.Red is also being derived from mercury sulphite, which can cause skin cancer. On the other hand, the Brahmins said that the red akshatas are symbolic of spiritual practice done with expectation of fulfilling the desires (sic).

Akshata is used as offering to the 330 million Gods during a wedding ceremony.  The  use of akshata is rampant during an Indian wedding. It is utilized symbolically for the newlyweds to literally shower them with good wishes and future prosperity. After the mangalsutra ceremony, the couple exchanges garlands. Those present at the wedding shower their blessings on the couple by sprinkling flowers and akshatas on them. Or akshata is thrown into the sacred fire around which the couple takes their pheras. During the entry of the bride to her in-laws home, she has to knock over a pot of rice with her foot, never to use that rice again for food. Some also paste akshatas on their wedding invitation cards.

On basant panchami day this January 2012, I attended a marriage ceremony of a Gujarati Hindu Brahmin. I casually asked the bride’s mother how much rice she had used for conversion into akshatas. Two kilos she said. The next day I read in the newspapers that on Basant Panchami day, 10000 marriages were solemnized in Ahmedabad alone. In other words at least 20000 kg of rice was converted to akshatas, just in Ahmedabad.

I am trying to figure out how much rice was ‘consumed’ all across the country on that day for conversion to akshatas and how much in a year? The 20000 kg of rice used in Ahmedabad for akshatas could have fed an orphanage of a 100 children or an old age home for 100 people for at least a year!

People of the enlightened and the highly educated Chitrapur Saraswat community (to which I belong), after the Dharma Sabha conducted by their Mathadhipati, wait eagerly for the akshatas (PHALMANTRAKSHATA) to be handed over by their Mathadhipati.

I weighed the packet of ‘phalmantrakshat’ a friend recently received from our Mathadhipati. It weighed 18 gms. Assuming that 150 bhaktas receive  ‘phalmantrakshat’ on every occasion, and there are 300 days on which phalmantrakshat  is distributed, we Chitrapur Saraswats utilize 810 kg of rice every year for this purpose. Change this ‘phalmantrakshat’ to ‘phalmantrakshat in form petals’ and we would be saving this Dev Dhanya (i.e. the gift of the gods) for the poor.Can a poor country like India really afford this luxury of wasting rice?

Add to this the similar practices in other Saraswat Maths or other Maths and the akshatas used during other Hindu ceremonies and imagine the savings of food-grains every year.

Rice, the almost perfect food, epitomizes the earth’s generosity. Rice is therefore rightly called Deva Dhanya . Is this the way to literally ‘throw away’ or ‘shower’ ‘Deva Dhanya’ when millions of people across the world are starving do not even get two square meals a day?

Can this practise of wasting rice be stopped? Can the same rice be donated to orphanages and old age homes?

Akshaya Tritya is fast approaching (24th April 2012). Lakhs of marriages would be solemnized on this auspicious day. Can we spread the message to save food grains urgently. Let us shower the newly weds with only petals and avoid the use of rice or other food grain.

Can we Chitrapur Saraswats show the way to the rest of the Hindus on how to do away with this wasteful practice? Our Chitrapur Saraswat Math, Shirali, North Kannada, Karnataka,  has always been positive in bringing about social reforms and shown resilience and buoyancy. If this message reaches our Mathadhipati, I am sure His Holiness will certainly bring about this change and offer ‘petal phalmantrakshat’.  Chitrapur Saraswats, can certainly show the way to the rest of the Hindus.

Gaddafi is no more! Long live Gaddafi?

Gaddafi is no more! Long live Gaddafi?

He may have been the worst tyrant, maybe second only to Adolf Hitler, but what his enemies did after his death makes me wonder whether civilization is still alive in Libya or is it a country of barbarians?

Just think over – members of a civilized society (if they can be called so) vying   with each other to get themselves  photographed with his corpse! What a sadistic pleasure.

The scene is ghoulish.

In contrast, when Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden in May, people criticized the government’s decision not to release the grisly photos of his corpse.

As a human being, I am disturbed by pictures of the Libyans getting themselves photographed even with an evil tyrant.

Obama, you supported the people who overthrew Gaddafi. Do you support their heinous actions?

www.theenablers.org and “What The Pharma CEO Wants From The Brand Manager”

Greetings to you on Ganesh Chaturthi! May Lord Ganesh shower His choicest blessings on you!

On this very auspicious day, I am happy to announce the hosting of my website: www.theenablers.org.

With great pleasure, I also introduce you to my second book: “What the Pharma CEO Wants from the Brand Manager”. I have written this book specifically for the brand managers of the Indian Pharmaceutical Industry and will soon be released.

Please do visit the page on this website: ‘Book to be released soon: What the Pharma CEO Wants From The Brand Manager’ on the website www.theenablers.org. Please do await the date of launch.

My business e-mail id effective today is: vivekhattangadi@theenablers.org

 

With warm regards,

Vivek Hattangadi

1st September 2011

Ganesh Chaturthi

WHAT THE PHARMA CEO WANTS FROM THE BRAND MANAGER