Oops. That presumably is the reaction of Big Phrma and other industry advocates of Democratic health care “reform.” By playing footsie with the politicoes who most hated them, the big health care lobbies expected to mitigate the damage. Now the strategy is in ruins.
Kim Strassel looks at Pfizer under CEO Jeffrey Kinder, who was seemingly chosen to make peace with the Democrats:
The sight of ObamaCare on life support has many Democrats disappointed. It could be worse. They could be Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler.
The twin events of an Obama presidency and a financial crisis rattled corporate America. Public anger put companies on the defensive. A liberal president vowing to punish firms that didn’t aid his agenda got companies scared.
Fortune 500 execs could stand up for a free market that benefits consumers and shareholders, or hitch their cart to the new Democratic majority. Pfizer’s Mr. Kindler is a case study in the hitch-and-hope mentality-a CEO who became the motivating force behind Big Pharma’s $80 billion “deal” on reform, and industry support of ObamaCare. With that health agenda burning, the choice isn’t looking so grand.
Pfizer was long a company that zealously guarded against government interference. Prior CEOs had seen how European governments had ruined its industry and recognized the threat. When the board made Mr. Kindler CEO in 2006-picking a relative newbie over insiders-it was a vote for shakeup. Mr. Kindler changed a lot more than the business.
Already known as a Democrat and political junkie, Mr. Kindler was primed for the Obama ascendancy. Like many big CEOs, he started playing footsie with groups that had long despised business but would now have the president’s ear. Pfizer quietly created a board of “notables” to advise it on policy. A top recruit: Andy Stern, fiery head of the Service Employees International Union. (It also includes Newt Gingrich.)
With health care “reform” coming undone, where will Pfizer and the other drugmakers turn? Stay with their new friends, many of whose fondest wish is to turn pharmaceuticals into public utility? Or turn back to the Republicans, who have no incentive to be nice to industries which actively pushed to further nationalize American health care?
If the drugmakers try the latter, the GOP should enjoy a good laugh and suggest that the pharmaceutical producers check back with Nancy Pelosi & Co. There’s no reason to take political bullets defending an industry that refuses to defend itself.