A Heartwarming Story Of Johnson And Johnson And Their Commitment To Their Credo.

It's a thing of beauty, that credo of Johnson and Johnson's. A shining example of how those in business can strive to make it in the competitive world of commerce while benefiting the world as a whole. The perfect illustration of why capitalism is the system that will lead us to the heights of human potential. You can almost cry reading over the Johnson and Johnson corporate credo.

You can also cry reading this press release from Doctors without Borders, but for a different reason:

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson is putting the lives of people living with HIV at stake by refusing to participate in the Medicines Patent Pool, a mechanism designed to lower prices of HIV medicines and increase access to them for people in the developing world, said the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today.

Wait, I'm sorry. I started off here talking about how great the J&J credo was without giving any examples. Here's how the credo starts off:

We believe our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses and patients, to mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services.

Well, I guess if you keep the price at a point where people can't afford your products, then technically they are not users, and you don't owe them anything according to the credo.

Still, there's a lot of good stuff in that credo. Now back to Doctors Without Borders:

Johnson & Johnson, which holds patents on three key new HIV drugs desperately needed throughout the developing world, has so far refused to license these patents to the Medicines Patent Pool. The Pool has been set up to increase access to more affordable versions of HIV drugs 
Johnson & Johnson holds patents on HIV medicines rilpivirine, darunavir, and etravirine...Even at Johnson & Johnson’s so-called reduced “access” pricing, the cost of these drugs is prohibitive; darunavir is priced at $1,095 per patient per year, and etravirine at $913 per patient per year in the world’s least-developed countries, most of which are in sub-Saharan Africa. Many developing countries have to pay even higher prices.

I'll remind you here that 2,700,000,000 people on this planet currently live on less than $730 a year. I'll also remind you of another part of J&J's credo:

We must constantly strive to reduce our costs in order to maintain reasonable prices.

Could that be the scent of bullshit in the air? To Doctors Without Borders:

In December 2010, the National Institutes of Health, which holds the intellectual property rights for a manufacturing process for darunavir, put its patent for the AIDS drug in the patent pool. Johnson & Johnson holds the drug’s remaining patents, and is effectively blocking other companies from manufacturing and making darunavir available at prices affordable for patients in the developing world.

To the credo:

We are responsible to the communities in which we live and work and to the world community as well. We must be good citizens – support good works and charities and bear our fair share of taxes.

Yeah, definite bullshit.

Not all is lost though. It is thought that J&J's refusal to license it's products may drive a desperate black market in which amateur chemists and people who don't really know drug manufacturing from a hole in the ground would attempt to make versions of needed AIDS meds in basements, garages, under bridges and in kitchens.

Experts estimate the result would be a dramatic increase in the quality of medicines that reach the patient.

"Indeed, we have already seen a large quantity of unregulated darunavir making its way through the public health clinics of Johannesburg" said fictitious AIDS expert Joseph Kabinga. "None of which has been contaminated with mold, tiny shards of glass, bacteria, or manufactured in such a way that required its removal after installation. Which, of course, is more than you can say about Motrin, Tylenol, Benadryl, Zyrtec, Rolaids, Sudafed, St Joseph's aspirin, OB tampons, Pepcid, Topamax, Invega and the DePuy replacement hip."

"It is our hope that if we can persuade Johnson and Johnson to stop donating these products to us and simply allow untrained random people picked from the street to make them, the resulting improved product reliability would have an immediate and dramatic impact on the health of our people."

And it is my hope... that someone at Johnson and Johnson may actually read that credo of theirs one day, and perhaps even understand it. That maybe someday they will realize that selling something for a dollar is still better than not selling it at all and watching a person die. That idleness in the face of a preventable, demographic-changing epidemic puts an awful lot of blood on their hands. I wonder how the executives of Johnson and Johnson sleep at night. If maybe they don't stroll down the aisle of a 24 hour drugstore at three in the morning looking for a package of Simply Sleep™, only to find a hole in the shelf where their recalled product once was. I wonder if they then buy an alternative made by a company that actually believes that in meeting customer needs everything they do must be of high quality.

I'd like to think so, but part of me thinks they just don't care. And that they sleep like babies.
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A Heartwarming Story Of Johnson And Johnson And Their Commitment To Their Credo.
A Heartwarming Story Of Johnson And Johnson And Their Commitment To Their Credo.
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