In a most unusual segment airing last night on “60 Minutes,” a senior executive of Pfizer appeared with reporter Bob Simon advocating “re-importation” as the antidote to high drug prices in the U.S. What made it unusual — and quite different from previous “whistleblowing” on the news magazine — was that the Pfizer executive remains an employee of the world’s largest pharmaceutical company (for now) and his message is counter to the company’s position on the issue.
I suspect the executive secured permission (and caution) from management to be interviewed, along with the head of Pfizer’s drug safety division who appeared in the segment to advocate the company’s position. (We’ve certainly come a long way since Brown & Williamson’s Jeff Weigand appearance on the show…without company permission.)
This contradictory public approach highlights the dilemma many well-meaning corporations face today -a paradox I wrote about in a posting on this blog (“A Tale of Two Cities,” May 27). In it I talked about command and control versus transparency and CSR. Personally, I think it’s commendable for Pfizer to have allowed this executive to appear on camera. The open dialogue on this issue portends good tidings. I’m sure Microsoft’s celebrity blogger Robert Scoble would agree.