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Posted by on Dec 8, 2010 in Ethics, Pharma

In Business Communications, Pharma Execs Lead by Negative Example

In Business Communications, Pharma Execs Lead by Negative Example


In the contest for “Most Boneheaded Business E-mail,” Dr. Martin Freed,* former Vice President of Clinical Development of GSK, has competition. In its investigation of interventional cardiologist Mark Midei and his relationship with Abbott Vascular, the staff of the Senate Committee on Finance turned up 2 whoppers.

After Midei lost his privileges at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Towson, Maryland, owing to the performance of unnecessary stent procedures, Charles Simonton, Abbott Vascular’s Chief Medical Officer, wrote in February,

I would continue to work with him, behind the scenes, at this point. We’ve just decided not to have him doing any public type work in the U.S. right now.

Note to Simonton: If you have to write something like “behind the scenes” in a company e-mail, don’t write the e-mail. (And we’re not even addressing whether Simonton should have worked with Midei at all.)

But the possible leader in this curious competition of comminiques is David Pacitti, Abbott Vascular’s Vice President of Global Marketing, who commented in January on this Baltimore Sun piece. The Sun writer, Jay Hancock, had written an article that criticized the overuse of cardiac stents and called out Midei specifically. With his beefy mitts, David Pacitti pounded out the following to Sam Conaway, Division Vice President of Sales of Abbott Vascular, who had transmitted the article,

Don’t you have connections in Baltimore???? Someone needs to take this writer outside and kick his ass! Do I need to send the Philly mob?

That’s funny.

On Monday, the Sun’s Hancock wrote that an Abbott spokesman (but not Pacitti) apologized “if this [e-mail] caused you any concern or distress” and that the comment “wasn’t meant to be taken seriously.” This was the response after Hancock called Pacitti to ask why the Abbott employee wanted his knees caps broken.

BTW, Abbott Vascular makes and promotes drug-eluting cardiac stents, which Midei apparently used with impunity. That is, until he was investigated.

* In July, the NYT’s Gardiner Harris revealed that Freed had written a company e-mail, which stated that the results of a 1999 GSK-sponsored trial of Avandia, Actos, and glyburide “should not see the light of day.”

bmartin (1127 Posts)

A native East Tennessean, Barbara Martin is a formerly practicing, board-certified neurologist who received her BS (psychology, summa cum laude) and MD from Duke University before completing her postgraduate training (internship, residency, fellowship) at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She has worked in academia, private practice, medical publishing, drug market research, and continuing medical education (CME). For the last 3 years, she has worked in a freelance capacity as a medical writer, analyst, and consultant. Follow Dr. Barbara Martin on and Twitter.