Service of Trust

February 21st, 2013

Categories: Medical, Pharmaceutical, Trust

trust2

This blog doesn’t usually pinion a brand by name, but when it is number five in a list of most trusted, and when its executives have done something dastardly and incomprehensible, I make an exception to my blog’s policy.

I read in David Reich’s post, “Who do we trust,” on his “my 2 cents blog,” about a Harris poll of 19,000 people at random who felt that Amazon was the most trusted brand and the rest were, in order, Apple, Disney, Google, Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, Whole Foods, Sony, Procter & Gamble and Costco.

caneI am shocked as much by the deed as by the cavalier attitude by management about something that takes so long to gain and a second to lose: Trust. I am appalled by yet another heartless business decision made by people who obviously have zero empathy about the pain and suffering they cause others.

Here’s the story:

“The note sent by a doctor to several executives at Johnson & Johnson was blunt: an artificial hip sold by the company was so poorly designed that the company should slow its marketing until it understood why patients were getting hurt,” Barry Meier wrote in a February News Analysis piece The New York Times. This was a follow-up to his January front page Business Day story, “Maker Hid Data About Design Flaw in Hip Implant, Records Show.”

Continued Meier in the analysis, “The doctor, who also worked as a consultant to Johnson & Johnson, wrote the note nearly two years before the company recalled the device in 2010. And it was far from the only early warning those executives got from doctors who were paid consultants. Still, the company’s DePuy orthopedic unit plowed ahead, and those consultants never sounded a public alarm to other doctors, who kept implanting the device.”

I recommend that you read the analysis for the reasons/excuses he posits that more doctors didn’t make a fuss as well as his earlier piece where I first read about this nightmare.

hip-replacementI take such a decision personally and feel enraged by it. An operation is scary for most and things can go wrong such as infections or heart failure or unforeseen reactions to the anesthesia.  And now and again there might be a kink in a device–mistakes happen. But a manufacturer that lets doctors use something its executives know doesn’t have a chance of working boils my blood.

Draconian as it sounds, I think that in future executives who know about  flaws in the devices they manufacture should have one of them implanted in their body or if they sell lousy medicine be forced to take it. It may be the only way to stop such conduct. Fining is useless.

How have we allowed companies to succeed without being expected to exhibit an iota of social responsibility? How do we protect ourselves from such a device being implanted in a friend, family member or ourselves?

old-hands

12 Responses to “Service of Trust”

  1. DManzaluni Said:

    What if the medical story is different from the business story? What if the business story is designed to influence solely the share price amongst gullible stockbrokers whereas the medical story only states that at the time they were marketing it, this device was the best there was; despite someone having discovered evidence of minor flaws which were easy to rectify within a few years?

  2. Mervyn Kaufman Said:

    As someone cranking up to having knee replacement surgery, you can bet that I’ve studied—and worried—this issue. But knee surgery has not (yet) became an issue, and you can bet that I’m doing my homework where my doctor is conserved. We lay people are hardly knowledgeable enough to be more than confused and hopeful. My advice: have faith in a surgeon who’s not high-handed, someone who takes care to explain step by step both the upsides and downsides of surgery. If he’s man enough to tell you, “Look, it’s not a perfect procedure”—and then explains why—I think I’d put more stock in his words than the guy who tries to “sell” you on the wonders of surgical science.

  3. Jim Gordon Said:

    Don’t know the answer, but we shouldn’t be surprised. My feeling is that a majority of people/corporations etc will lie if they don’t think they’ll be caught. It’s a terrible, but reasonable, indictment.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    DManzaluni,

    Bit of a stretch. Had the device been the best one available at the time, there would have either been a quote to that effect or an enormous PR initiative to rectify the news in the first story in the NY Times. And in that case there would not have been a subsequent analysis by the same reporter.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Merv,

    I agree with your assessment of trust in a doctor who doesn’t make over-the-moon promises and isn’t pushy. Not my style in most instances.

    And even if doctors weren’t as busy as they are these days having to shove in zillions of patients a day to make a living, they, too must rely on the research of other doctors and the practices of manufacturers they can trust. We can do research about the proposed device [which in the past it would never have occurred to me to do] and keep our eyes open for news about it for starters. That’s a good suggestion and on the list every patient should ask a doctor when planning an intervention.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Jim,

    You may be right–obviously you are–but if we’re passive about these instances we’ll all be at risk should we need any kind of implant…from tooth and ear on down–as well as drugs.

  7. Scott Ossian Said:

    One of the ways historians evaluate past civilizations is by trying to deduce from contemporary sources the degree of confidence and trust people had in the institutions upon which they relied for their basic needs such as water and food, shelter and security, the freedom to worship, recourse to fair treatment under the law and decent medical care.

    If a company with the stature of Johnson & Johnson cannot be trusted, and based upon my personal experience working for a now defunct entity of like standing in its industry, I strongly suspect that it cannot be, then contemporary America has taken a mighty fall down the list of quality civilizations.

    The sad thing is that I truly believe that no one in power cares.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Scott,

    I fear that you are right if only because politicians depend on the large corporations for campaign support and many of the watchdogs come from the very industries over which they are watching.

    People also excuse a company or a person for acting in a dastardly fashion if, simultaneously they support charitable causes, which I assume J and J does. A truly horrendous woman worked at a company I’d worked for when her name came up years later as a possible recruit at my then employer’s agency. I said I wouldn’t work within four blocks of the horror and someone said, “But she had been so wonderful when so-and-so had an accident getting all those people to donate blood for her transfusions.” I thought, “Nice, but I wouldn’t want her around.”

  9. Lucrezia Said:

    Negligence lawyer ads abound, with all manner of actionable specialties. Medical casualies seem to lead the pack. The widespread knowledge that huge corporations are throwing clients under the bus is small comfort to anyone awaiting surgery. However, those ads are an indication that society may be gearing up for demanding payback.

    Just because a poll announces a company is trusted, is no guarantee that it earns the accolade. Now take Coca Cola, which serves up a beverage that eats away the acid off ones car battery, and which has been responsible for rotting tons of teeth. Has Harris gone to the ADA (American Dental Association) whose members have earned millions of trips to China repairing the damage it has done? Or perhaps gastrointestinal experts, who reap similar rewards?

    In short, it is foolish to blindly trust a corporation, regardless of its longevity or reputed stature. It is even more foolhardy to trust a poll.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    With stories like this one it’s hard to trust anybody.

    As for the poll, even if it’s not totally accurate, J and J is up there, lovingly known for baby powder and oil. Bet few of those 19,000 respondents know that the company had anything to do with hip devices. Guess the company trusts that the connection will continue NOT to be made.

    You are right about all those law suits. In fact, one of Barry Meier’s articles reports some 10,000 for the hip situation alone. I would make another bet that almost none of those people look forward to money if they could have done without the pain of having something that didn’t work inside them that had to be removed causing yet another hospital visit, physical therapy, recuperation. Oh, my.

    And J and J doesn’t give a whit about the money. I think it was Jackie Gleason who referenced a mere bag of shells–all it means to them. That’s why I wish that executives who cause people to suffer like this would themselves be caused to suffer. Money and job loss won’t do it for me.

  11. jacqueline Herships Said:

    Dear Jeanne:

    I am about to have a total hip replacement and of course was concerned about the problems w/ metal on metal which I’ve heard so much about in recent news. Because I was conerned, I asked my surgeon, Joseph Fetto, about it and he told me that he and his associates spotted potential problems early on and tried to make an outcry, but no one would listen. He says the problem is one of design, not of metal on metal, and that it is too bad that the entire class of metal on metal is being tarred with the same brush as this (or is it ‘these) poor quality examples.

    In his case, he practices a newer version of surgery called minimally invasive surgery which cuts into little or no muscle. The prosthesis he uses is made of Titanium and plastic. He is also an engineer and the design is his own. I have heard nothing but good reports about him and am hoping for good results. Meanwhile, he keeps on writing letters and trying to get the word out, again – with little success. His most recent failure was with the NYTimes.

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Jackie,

    I am so glad that you have done the research and have found a doctor who has also gotten to the bottom of a potentially bad situation and has come up with a good solution with an excellent device.

    As for the New York Times, I can only assume that the competent letter-reader was fired and someone else is doing the job along with another four they’ve inherited from others who were also downsized.

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