I am writing this Blog post today with a heavy sports heart – alas, I am a fan of the New England Patriots. And selfishly I am very aggravated that instead of being excited about the upcoming SuperBowl, I am wondering why the Patriots felt they had to cheat to win a game against a team they crushed 45-7 this past Sunday. As a fan, I believe they would have beaten the Colts regardless – so why try to push the edge to get every last potential benefit? Is it really worth the risk?
Then, I realized that Sports, like many other things is a Business. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it’s a Business first and then a Sport second. It also got me thinking why anyone would cover this up and then I realized – it hurts the Sport – and then subsequently, the Business.
How does this relate to healthcare you ask? A lot. Do you know how many companies were either sued or questioned about illegal or potentially illegal activities last year, just in the pharmaceutical industry? Over 100 (which is probably a very low estimate).
- Cities and states sued drug companies for allegedly pushing consumer use of opioid painkillers;
- The FTC sued companies for illegally blocking consumer access to lower-cost versions of drugs, also alleging companies entered anticompetitive agreements to delay generic entry;
- Countries sued companies for illegal sales representative activity – and the list goes on and on.
Unfortunately, there are times when people or organizations feel they need to cut it close to the edge to gain a competitive advantage over their opponent or competitor. However, I find that somewhat short-sighted. And while I fully admit it is not exactly the same, the Patriots cheating in the game on Sunday takes away from the fans of the game – and not just those in New England. It also gives ammunition to naysayers and those who didn’t like the Patriots or Bill Belickick in the first place. Similarly, cheating or “cutting it close to the edge” in the pharmaceutical industry is harmful to patients. But it’s worse because not only are companies attempting to make more revenue or drive up their stock prices but patients are the ones that suffer by becoming addicted to medications, not having access to medications they should or being forced to pay more than they should. In addition, it gives ammunition to groups whose stance is companies are not in business to improve the lives of patients but to solely improve their bottom line.
As with everything, the real story is somewhere in the middle. Sometimes the forest gets lost for the trees – so it’s up to individuals to bring the trees back into focus and realize what matters – working from an equal playing field with good intentions.