Monday, January 7, 2008

Big Pharma, "Real" People, Wonkers?

Ed Silverman over at Pharmalot is trying to draw out the anonymous creators of a Website called BigPharmaRealPeople and challenged the principal--one Scott McTavish (aka John Galt)--to a blogging duel:

"One other thing, Scott. Since you chose not to answer any of our messages directly, we are still curious to know more about your background and those of your ’staff.’ We would also like to know what, if any, sponsorship or backing you may have. If you really do enjoy an open debate about all the facts, more disclosure would be helpful - unless your site is merely an example of astroturfing dressed up as a social networking experiment." (See "Big Pharma, Real People, Bitter Web Site").

I can't imagine that this site gets any pharma sponsorship money. If it did, it could afford to be sure that its web site was compatible with every browser out there, especially FireFox. It's not.

When I access the site using FireFox 5.0 for Windows, it's a mess!

I first heard of BigPharmaRealPeople from the Pharma Fraud blog (see "Big Pharma: Real (Phony) People"), which believed it was a spoof site. Frankly, I don't think there's much about it to get worked up about.

However, I find it amusing that perhaps the site took an idea I had and ran with it. Namely, the idea that the stories of "real" people working at pharmaceutical companies are not getting out. I suggested, for example, that the J&J people over at JNJ BTW should let their rank and file people tell their stories on that blog (see, for example, "Advice to All Pharma PR Bloggers Out There").

Could it be that a rogue person within J&J read my blog and decided to do what I suggested? Could be (I think Pharma Fraud believes it could be). Except BigPharmaRealPeople takes it a step further and potty mouths critics of the pharmaceutical industry, choosing to focus on "negative attack ads" rather than positive personal stories, which makes it sound more like someone from Cafe Pharma is behind this.

BigPharmaRealPeople is NOTHING like the open and frank style of JNJ BTW, but is very SIMILAR to attack dog style of Drug Wonks, who are also big Ayn Rand fans. It wouldn't surprise me, therefore, it those people were behind BigPharmaRealPeople!


Anonymous said...

John, last week, I actually got Scott McTavish to respond to e-mailed questions; I shared his answers PharmaBlogs: Week in Review.

PharmaGuy said...

Thanks for reminding me. Here's the response as reported by Chris:

An inquiry to Mr. McTavish was answered, and he explained why many of the folks who are writing for the site choose to remain anonymous. “I am retired,” he said. “No corporate lawyer can threaten me because they have nothing to hold over me. Unfortunately, this is not true of the others that helped me start this site. They are very apprehensive of getting overly involved in this ‘grass roots’ effort because they fear reprisals. The same is true of the thousands that signed up for our mailing list. They want to read what we are doing, but they appear reluctant to send in their comments and opinions. I guess I can’t blame them. If was still working, I would probably play it safe also. You want to defend yourself and your company, but doing so could get you in hot water. Fortunately, IMS Health and other vendors have guts. They are doing the job that many Big Pharma companies are afraid to do. Fight back against state governments. Court victories in Maine and New Hampshire are giving our industry hope.” (For more about the court victory in Maine, see the first item in “Around and about.”)

In response to why the group has not set up a two-way dialog, Mr. McTavish says, “Opening up a dialog would be a disaster. Look at CafĂ© Pharma. A bunch of disgruntled malcontents control the site. They trash the industry, their bosses, each other, etc. If we opened up ourselves to anonymous posters, we would defeat the purpose of our site. The vast majority of the pharma blogs on the Web trash Big Pharma. I do not want to give the haters another forum to spread their lies.” I can understand that. But if you have a good moderator who can respond to the people who actually want to have a dialog and dump threads and posts that devolve into insults and name-calling, you can be more open. The level of control is in your hands.

And what about the site’s connection to the writings of Ayn Rand? Mr. McTavish says the site’s members are admirers of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, and he is amused at the response the site has gotten from some. “It is amazing how many journalists that contacted us were not able to make the connection between Big Pharma and Objectivism,” he says. “I guess they are not as ‘well-read’ as they claim to be. This current growth of government intervention is exactly what Rand warned us of 50+ years ago: ‘Government help to business is just as disastrous as government persecution...the only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off.’”

PharmaGuy said...

P.S. Could still have been one of the wonkers posing as a "retired" whatever.

Antoine Clarke said...

It's not those trimming welfare addicts at Drugwonks: they think Medicare expansion is a good thing and want to keep the FDA.

Atlas Shrugged has sold many millions of copies, so the list of suspects ain't short.