To Kåre Shultz and the Board of Teva Pharmaceuticals
5 Basel Street
Petach Tikva 49131
In an effort to be a man of character and grow into a person of compassion, I have worked on empathy. I have tried to put myself into your shoes and understand the world from your perspective as a pharmaceutical business and the people who run one. Your undertaking is truly massive, spanning continents and constitutional rights for thousands of employees. Your holdings are enormous, and it must be truly daunting to look for a way to justify your exorbitant compensation.
Don’t misunderstand, I do not begrudge a man’s ability to be paid well and beyond.
If I could, by efforts within my own field be paid as well, I probably would.
I read some about the history of your company and its recent woes. Your stock price took a terrible dive recently because your business was bloated with medications from whose manufacture and sale, you were failing to provide lucrative renumeration for your stock holders. And so you did what businesses must when they have bought too many failing businesses. You began to bail water and trim unproductive branches.
You have been described in a fairly terrible light recently in our media who, when they have determined you are evil, are really good with their “bad buy” shade of paint brush. You’re an Israeli business, which for whatever bent reason, starts you off in the negative with our media. You’re a pharmaceutical business, which gives you another shade in the villain hue. So you started off the story with two strikes firmly against you.
And then the story is told of how you announced for “business reasons” you would be discontinuing Vincristine.
I hate Vincristine and its long-term effects. I’m amazed at how we arrived at the invention of chemotherapy from freaking mustard gas for goodness sakes. I hate how nurses have to double up in a room to administer your former product so they can keep an eye on one another to not break protocols and accidentally poison themselves.
I hate watching it injected into the port that travels into my son’s heart and into his blood stream, carrying a derivative of a world war murder gas, to slowly poison him, but keep his cancer at bay.
And because my son still draws breath, I love the thing that I hate.
I had a fairly animated discussion with my wife last night about the pressures under which you probably find yourselves as a directive board to guide your empire to profitability and success. I deny the idea that you are all about profit and suspect that some small parts of you still believe that you can do good for the world through the products that your company supplies. I know that there are other villains in this episode of “How Rich People Accidentally Killed the Proletariat For Money” to include various national regulations on your business, health insurance (both public and private) restraints on what they will pay for your generics, heads of state, and even your competitors.
Ladies and gentlemen, just because you are not the only villains does not excuse your villainy in this. You got yourselves into a market that creates medications that save lives and failed to secure its production by another entity before exiting the market thereby risking lives that would otherwise be saved.
I am lucky.
My son’s cancer is in remission and he is not at a make or break life or death moment in his treatment. He can miss a few beats while Pfizer picks up the slack for you. Heck, they needed the good PR. They’re usually the bad guys when it comes to medicine shortfalls around here.
There are people, though, whose children need Vincristine and the frustration is that even though they have gathered the immense resources to support the long and expensive journey, your decision, so callously guarded as a “business decision” has deprived them of it.
I am certain your communication is full of hot takes, threats on your life, and begging.
I am simply appealing on behalf of parents everywhere already doing the impossible task of trying to raise small children into good people to change your minds and reverse course.
I tried to explain to several people that you have already cut your ties.
It’s possible I am actually right.
But just in case.
In the case you haven’t fully left that bridge in smouldering ashes.
For people in the business of the medicine that gives people hope, there are occasionally incentives that are more rewarding than those that build you another home or purchase another Benz. At the end of your life, you can take zero percent of the money you have earned. You can pass it along.
What you will also pass along is a legacy of having heartlessly deprived children of life saving medication.
You will pass on to your children and their children the legacy of having made a difference in the lives of complete strangers who needed hope and a cure.
I truly hope you find the capacity to sleep well at night.