Issue Date: April 6, 2009
Destructive Market Forces
IN "PFIZER TO BUY Rival Wyeth," we once again see the fruits of overselling and undue influence in the clinical marketplace through funding behavior that is clearly anticompetitive (C&EN Online Latest News, Jan. 26). Pfizer bought its two major competitors a few years back and then simply shut them down and fired everyone. When that scheme failed, they fired the chief executive officer and hired a replacement who had extensive experience in business—the business of selling cooked chicken.
The pharmaceutical industry sits on top of the largest investment in the history of the world supporting a specific industry. Pharmaceutical companies represent an investment of hundreds of billions of dollars of government money in training biomedical scientists and in research. It is foolish to think that the shed resources will simply pick up the pieces and become viable and productive. Market forces in this industry are not only counterproductive, they are destructive.
It is time for the government to step in and manage these robber barons. Clearly, the impetus behind this acquisition is not the health of the pharmaceutical industry or the people of the world, but the value of Pfizer stock. While this works in many industries to drive productivity and efficiency, in the life sciences it is counterproductive. Organizations that took decades to build are being gutted, and our most highly trained and experienced scientists are out on the street. It is nonsense to say that most of them can find new jobs. Forget about social responsibility and the impact on families and careers, the loss of this resource will cripple the drive to revitalize our economy.
We have to ask whether we are going to let this sort of anticompetitive behavior continue to flourish and degrade the U.S. capacity to compete in the one market where we are the king. This is nonsense, and if we let it happen once again, then we deserve our fate.
Michael D. Wider
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