• November 4, 2016

    3 minute read


    Last week, I posted some questions for you managers out there. Or, as I referred to them:

    6½ Questions That Every Manager Should Be Able to Answer

    This week, I’m posting the answers. So check them out, and see how you did.


    (1 point for each correct answer)

    Question #1: If the roles of “advisor” and “evaluator” are incompatible with each other, how is that you—as a manager—are expected to act as both when it comes to your subordinates?

    Answer: You can’t be both. So pick one: Evaluator? Or advisor?


    Q#1.5: If you are in fact responsible for assessing your employees’ performance, how do you explain the “catch-22” this creates? After all, one of the things that seems to most influence employee performance is how well a person is being managed.

    Answer: It can’t be explained. You simply can’t be expected to objectively evaluate those you manage, because that really means you’re evaluating your own capacity to manage. And this is a conflict of interest of the highest order. (By the way, this should help you decide which role to choose in question #1.)


    Q#2: Organizational efficiency is supposedly increased by both “flattening” an organization, and by limiting a manager’s “span of control.” But to flatten a hierarchy you must necessarily increase that span of control. So how’s that supposed to work?

    Answer: It doesn’t work, and will never work. These two management “principles” are paradoxical. (For more on the paradoxical nature of all management advice, please see “Why you can throw out that management advice book – Parts 1,2&3”)


    Q#3: The “teamwork” that all managers talk so much about seems to require “taking one for the team” on occasion – or subordinating one’s own interest to those of the collective, so to speak. Except that doesn’t sound like something a capitalist would say, does it?

    Answer: It most certainly does not sound like what a capitalist would say. And that’s because “subordinating one’s own interest to those of the collective” is a Marxian principle. This suggests that the concept of “teamwork” really has no place in the management of a for-profit enterprise operating in a free market – an environment in which all actors are expected to act in accordance with their own best self-interest.


    Q#4: Why is it still who you know, and not what you know, that’s so important at most companies? In other words, why all the “office politics”?

    Answer: Office politics are actually the symptom of another, larger organizational issue. Contrary to what many believe, the companies we work for aren’t the little meritocracies we like to think they are. Not even close. So until we transform them into environments wherein genuine hard work consistently pays off, office politics will unfortunately continue to exist.


    Q#5: If the person closest to a problem is typically best equipped to solve it, why do you, as a manager, routinely deny your frontline employees the authority to fix the problems that prevent them from doing their best work?

    Answer: You shouldn’t deny your employees that authority; it’s a mistake to do so. In fact, on a deeper level, it’s not even yours to deny.


    Q#6: Where does your authority come from anyway? What makes you the boss?

    Answer: Actually, you’re not the boss. Your employees are.


    So there you have it – tally up your score and see how you did.

    Questions, observations, criticisms, or rebuttals? Please post them in the “Comments” section below.

    Otherwise, commit these answers to memory. That way, the next time somebody asks you one of these 6 (and ½) questions about managing you can respond without hesitation…and no one will ever again doubt your capacity to manage, and manage well.

    But wait – much of this still doesn’t make sense to you, you say?

    Well then, keep following my blog…



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    Last week I was pretty hard on management writers/bloggers who come up with those silly little management lists.

    Lists with titles like these, for instance:[1]

    • 5 Mindset Shifts That Will Get You Fired Up on Mondays
    • Top 10 Ways to Avoid Being Labeled a Complainer at Work
    • 12 Deadly Career Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

    Well, this week I take it all back. Why? Because I’m posting a list of my own for you to consider:


    6.5 Questions Every Manager Should Be Able Answer


    These are the six (and a half) questions that I sincerely believe every manager should absolutely, positively be able to answer correctly. No matter who they are, where they’re employed, or who they manage.[2]

    And here they are (in no particular order):


    1. Advisor-evaluator paradox. The roles of “advisor” and “evaluator” are incompatible with each other.[3] So how is it that you—as a manager—are expected to act as both when it comes to your subordinates?

    1.5 – If you are in fact responsible for assessing your employees’ performance, how do you explain the “catch-22” this creates? After all, one of the things that seems to most influence that performance is how well a person is being managed.[4]

    1. Flatten that span. Organizational efficiency is supposedly increased by both “flattening” an organization (reducing the number of layers in the hierarchy), and by limiting a manager’s “span of control” (which keeps managers from spreading themselves too thin).[5] But to flatten the hierarchy you must necessarily increase the span of control. So how’s that work?
    1. Teamwork. You probably talk about teamwork a lot, and how important it is.[6] Which is great. Cooperating and working together – I get it. But “teamwork” also seems to require “taking one for the team” on occasion – or subordinating one’s own interest to those of the collective, so to speak.[7] Except that doesn’t sound like something a capitalist would say, does it? (More like something a communist would say, actually.)
    1. Politics. Why is it still who you know, and not what you know, that’s so important at most companies? In other words, why all the “office politics”?[8]
    1. Organizational authority. The person closest to a problem is typically best equipped to solve it.[9] So why do you, as a manager, routinely deny your frontline employees the authority to fix the problems that prevent them from doing their best work?
    1. Authority (part 2). Where does your authority come from anyway? What makes you the boss?


    I should point out that these are the same questions I posed to some of the world’s foremost experts on managing a couple of months ago at the Academy of Management’s 2016 Annual Meeting.

    And to be honest, they didn’t do so well.[10]

    So this week I’m asking you.

    Think them over – then please post your answers in the “Comments” section below. And then stay tuned; I’ll have the correct responses for you in an upcoming post…




    [1] Respectively: http://www.inc.com/nicolas-cole/5-mindset-shifts-that-will-hype-you-up-on-a-monday.html; http://www.inc.com/john-white/10-ways-to-avoid-being-labeled-a-complainer-at-work.html; http://www.inc.com/lolly-daskal/12-deadly-career-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them.html. All retrieved October 27, 2016.

    [2] If you follow my blog, these questions will be familiar to you. They’re essentially the same ones I asked in one of my first posts (“Why your boss probably sucks”), and then later posed to management scholars, consultants and other management academics back in August (Please see: “’Live’ from the Academy of Management’s 2016 Annual Meeting”).

    [3] Hill, Linda. 2003. Becoming a Manager. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, p. 209.

    [4] Wagner, Rodd, and James K. Harter. 2006. 12: The Elements of Great Managing. New York: Gallup Press; Shaer, Steven J. 2013. Fix Them or Fire Them. Challenger Books.

    [5] Simon, Herbert. “The Proverbs of Administration.” As reprinted in Jay M. Shafritz & J. Steven Ott. 2001. Classics of Organization Theory (5th edition). Orlando, FL: Harcourt, Inc., pp. 112-124.

    [6] Lencioni, Patrick. 2002. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Boss.

    [7] Fayol, Henri. 1949. General and Industrial Management. New York: Pitman Publishing Corp.

    [8] Morgan, Gareth. 1998. Images of Organization (Executive Edition). San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Kohler Publishers, Inc. and SAGE Publications, Inc., pp. 149-181.

    [9] Peters, Tom, and Robert Waterman. 1982. In Search of Excellence. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc.

    [10] The high score for the week was 1 correct answer. (Please see my post “AOM 2016 Recap: Melissa”)


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  • October 21, 2016

    3 minute read


    I’ve been checking out online business “magazines,” blogs, and other management-related websites lately. And here’s what I’ve noticed:

    There sure are a lot of lists out there.

    Here’s some examples of what I’m talking about:

    • “9 Ways to Make Sure You Run Effective Meetings (Infographic)”
    • “7 Ways Great Leaders Think Differently From Everyone Else”
    • “15 Body Language Secrets of Successful People”
    • “5 Brilliant Cost Effective Influencer Marketing Strategies”
    • “7 Reasons the Best Employees Quit, Even When They Like Their Job”
    • “9 Reasons Your Best Employees Will Stay, Even When They Don’t Like Their Jobs


    So when it comes managing and/or leading, business writers seem have a preference communicating their ideas in “list-format,” for whatever the reason. Like a list of things to do.

    Or not do.



    Now there’s obviously nothing wrong with lists per se.

    But this seeming obsession with list-making does strike me as odd. When I was in graduate school studying chemistry, for instance, I don’t ever recall having to memorize the “5 Ways to Make Sure You Run Effective Experiments.” Or the “15 Body Language Secrets of Successful Organic Chemists” – or “5 Brilliant Cost Effective Proton-Decoupled NMR Strategies.” For managers, business leaders, and career-oriented management professionals, however, lists seem to be all the rage.

    Unfortunately, they’re rarely very helpful in my experience. Consider the following:

    It goes on to to say: “Choose someone who is both trusted and respected by the team.” But again, shouldn’t that by you, since you’re presumably the one attempting to run it? If it’s not—that is, if you’re not trusted and respected by your own employees—I’d wager that ineffective meetings are probably the least of your worries…


    • As for the “7 Ways Great Leaders Think Differently From [sic?] Everyone Else,” the post’s author assures readers up front that “successful thinking is something you can learn.” (Which is great – otherwise why bother reading further?) However, when it comes to tip #3—“Explore Big Picture Thinking”—she also argues for being “ready to see things that other people cannot see” so you “can connect dots like no one else.” But how do you become ready to see what no one else can? I’d love a bit more detail on that one – especially since once she’s explained it, everyone else will also be able to see those things too, making you incapable of seeing what others can’t. Right..?


    • When it comes to the “15 Body Language Secrets of Successful People,” isn’t this putting the carriage before the horse, so to speak? Sure, if I avoid “crossed arms” on my part (tip#5), or stop “fidgeting” (tip#8), I might get that promotion, or be seen as a more productive/competent employee. But if I achieve some measure of success first—by developing a great product, or becoming an outstanding manager, for instance—won’t that be reflected in my body language…?


    • As for “5 Brilliant Cost Effective Influencer Marketing Strategies,” just how many “marketing strategies” are there in total, if there’s five “brilliant, cost effective” ones alone for “influencers”? Furthermore, what are the “brilliant” but not necessarily “cost effective” strategies (just in case I have a budget surplus to use up before the end of the fiscal quarter)? And just out of curiosity, what are the ones that are “cost effective,” but actually kind of stupid..?


    Actually, I don’t even know where to begin with that…


    Time out

    Oh yes – I almost forgot to mention all those lists I’ve come across that have to do with “time management.”

    Truly, if there’s one topic that these business list-makers seem to gravitate towards, it’s how to make the most of your time. For instance:

    • “5 Simple Ways to Add 2 Hours More to Your Day”
    • “7 Ways to Knock an Hour Off Your Work Day”
    • “8 Secrets Smart People Know About Time Management”
    • “9 Ways to Save More Time”
    • “How to Manage Time with 10 Tips That Work”
    • “15 Ways to Keep Your Brain Sharp During an Insanely Long Work Day”
    • “Work Smarter, Not Harder: 21 Time Management Tips to Hack Productivity”
    • “65 Ways to Sharpen Your Time Management Skills”


    By my count, that’s 130 suggestions just from these eight articles alone.[1] (Better set aside some time to take it all in.)

    Which brings me to my own “time management” advice:

    For ****-sake, don’t waste your time reading all of these lists.



    See you next week.



    [1] Respectively: http://fortune.com/2016/03/05/productivity-time-management-tips/; https://www.fastcompany.com/3029712/7-ways-to-knock-an-hour-off-your-work-day; http://www.forbes.com/sites/annlatham/2015/11/08/8-secrets-smart-people-know-about-time-management/#11951a38279a; http://www.inc.com/kevin-daum/9-ways-to-save-more-time.html; https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/219553; http://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/ss/how-to-keep-your-brain-sharp-during-an-insanely-long-work-day.html?cid=sf01001&sr_share=twitter; http://www.creativitypost.com/create/work_smarter_not_harder_21_time_management_tips_to_hack_productivity; http://www.inc.com/lolly-daskal/65-of-the-best-time-management-tips-that-will-work-for-you.html. All retrieved Oct. 20, 2016.




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  • October 14, 2016

    4 minute read



    “Hire only the best.”

    If you’ve ever been a manager—and even if you haven’t—it’s likely you’ve come to believe that it’s crucial for a manager to attract and recruit only the best possible talent.

    Jim Collins certainly seems to think so. He’s the author of numerous best-selling management advice books, and in one of those, Good to Great (2001) he writes: “People are not your most important asset. The right people are.” Nor is he alone in thinking this way.[1]

    Furthermore, Collins argues that successful companies…

    “…first got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus…and then figured out where to drive it.”

    In other words, he seems to believe that who you hire may be even more important than what your company ultimately decides to do.

    So for this installment of Unconventional (Mis)management Non-wisdom, I’d like to do away with this well-worn management myth:

    That in order to succeed in business, you need to focus on hiring only “the best and the brightest.”


    Only “rock stars” need apply?

    What got me thinking about this particular pearl of management wisdom was an article recently posted at Inc.com titled “Why ‘Only Hire Rock Stars’ Is Horrible Advice.

    It’s written by Michael Del Ponte, a cofounder of Soma, a company that makes “sustainable, plant-based water filters” for personal use. In it, he urges hiring managers to beware the “rock star interviewee” – someone who interviews well, and thus comes across as more competent or better suited for the position than they actually are. Nor should you be seduced by the “rock star resume”, he warns—someone who is actually very well-qualified (at least on paper), but nevertheless not a good fit for your company, or its “culture,” for whatever the reason.

    Both are valid points, to be sure. But they’re not really condemnations of “rock star” employees per se. Instead, Del Ponte simply seems to be cautioning readers not to fall prey to those candidates who appear to be rock stars—“posers,” so to speak—or those who might have been high achievers somewhere else.

    Hiring true “rock stars” would still seem to be something to shoot for.


    Beware the “super-chicken”

    A far more convincing counter-argument to the “hire only the best”-mentality is offered by Margaret Heffernan.

    She’s a successful business leader, and author of The Naked Truth (2004) – a book that describes the experiences of women in the workplace, and the unique ways in which they contribute to organizations.

    In a recent TEDTalk titled “Forget the pecking order at work,” Heffernan explains precisely why hiring all “superstars” is a mistake. She bases her argument on a study of chickens (yes, chickens) and egg production conducted by William Muir of Purdue University.[2] Specifically, he and his colleagues compared the output of a flock of average chickens, with that of a flock of “super-chickens” – those that had been bred specifically for high egg production. And the results were perhaps surprising:

    The former flock thrived, while the latter pecked each other to death.

    In other words, so-called “super-chickens” didn’t do so well when they were forced to cohabitate. Their competitiveness got the best of them. Or as Ms. Heffernan eloquently put it:

    “The individually productive chickens had only achieved their success by suppressing the productivity of the rest” (1:19).

    Now chickens are one thing, of course, and human beings quite another. But these conclusions have been born out in a least one study of homo sapiens, as Heffernan goes on to point out.[3] In examining the “collective intelligence” of groups with respect to performance of certain tasks, Professor Thomas Malone of MIT’s Sloan School of Management found that:

    “…the average individual intelligence of the group members was not a significant predictor of group performance” (p. 688).

    In other words, just because a group of people had a bunch of high performers in it didn’t mean the group would be high-performing as well. No less surprising, they found that those groups who had just one or two high performers— or “rock stars”, “super-chickens”, or whatever you want to call them—didn’t do all that well either.

    In fact, just the opposite.

    Groups of average performers tended to consistently outperform these other two groups when it came to accomplishing a variety of tasks. (Indeed, Malone and his colleagues found that other factors were predictive of group performance.[4])

    So all the pains you might be taking to “hire only the best”?

    Well, that may not be what’s best for your company.




    [1] For example: “NetFlix Has No Rules Because They Hire Great People” by Kevin Kruse. Sept 5, 2016, from Forbes.com. http://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2016/09/05/netflix-has-no-rules-because-they-hire-great-people/#3811b6686e3e; “Hire Great People: Ten Simple Rules” by Barbara Rheinhold from Monster.com. http://hiring.monster.com/hr/hr-best-practices/recruiting-hiring-advice/job-screening-techniques/hiring-great-people.aspx; “9 Tips for Hiring Great People” by Bill Murphy Jr. Feb. 28, 2014, from Inc.com. http://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/9-tips-for-hiring-great-people.html.

    [2] Muir, William M., and H. Wei Cheng. “Genetic influences on the behavior of chickens associated with welfare and productivity.” Genetics and the Behavior of Domestic Animals, 2nd edn. Academic Press (Elsevier) San Diego, California (2013): 317-359. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=4L3dMJ8-aWgC&oi=fnd&pg=PA317&dq=Genetics+and+the+behavior+of+chickens+2013+Muir&ots=nxgt3zl-WD&sig=8pe1o0v0tjK7otRGa5yQfFCSukI#v=onepage&q=Genetics%20and%20the%20behavior%20of%20chickens%202013%20Muir&f=false.

    [3] Woolley, A. W., Chabris, C. F., Pentland, A., Hashmi, N., & Malone, T. W. (2010). “Evidence for a collective intelligence factor in the performance of human groups.” Science, 330(6004), 686-688. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/70c1/88413dd80ab45fb8d404994e0f0f2b703abd.pdf.

    [4] Three factors were found to correlate positively with collective intelligence: (1) average social sensitivity to others, (2) a willingness on the part of group members to give everyone an equal hearing, and (3) the number of women in the group (that is, groups with more women tended to perform better); Ibid., p. 688.


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  • 3 minute read


    Judging by the chill in the air tonight here in Philadelphia, winter isn’t as far off as I’d like it to be. It also reminds me of those especially brutal winters I experienced growing up in Minnesota.

    So this week, another installment in my Paradox of the Week* series of posts – some contradictory statements/paradoxical assertions made by Bill George. He’s a Professor of Management Practice at the Harvard Business School, and the former CEO of Medtronic – a medical device company founded in my home state back in 1949.[1]

    And so…

    • In True North (2007, Jossey-Boss), George emphasizes the importance of a leader’s values: “values are personal—they cannot be determined by anyone else [my emphasis]” (page xxxii). And yet in the very next breath he does just that. “Integrity,” he insists, “…is the one value required by every authentic leader.”


    What George really seems to struggle with, however, is the title of his book, and how to make sense of it. For instance:

    • On page 1, George defines “True North” as the “compass that guides you successfully through life.” Furthermore, “on your journey, you will need the True North of your internal compass to stay focused…” (p. xxxiv). That sounds reasonable enough…except that he also insists that “discovering your True North takes lifetime of commitment and learning” (page 1 again).

    So how exactly is something that takes a lifetime to discover supposed to guide you through your lifetime?

    • George only adds to this confusion by later suggesting that your “internal compass” must be calibrated early on in life. “If you establish your boundaries early…” he writes, “your moral compass will kick in when you reach your limits…” (p. 101).
    • Ultimately, however, much of the what George writes about is intended to help you, the apparently directionless reader, answer the question “What is your True North?” To this end, George posits that your own True North “is derived from your life story, and only you can determine what it should be” (page 1). But this statement seems to go against the very idea that “North” is somehow “True” in the full sense of the word. Instead, it suggests that it varies from individual to individual.

    So maybe “True-for-me North,” “My Personal North,” or “North-ish” would be a better title for his book..?


    That’s it – for more installments of my “Paradox of the Week” series of posts, click here.

    As for a chilly Minnesota winter…well, that’s one thing that at least some of Medtronic’s employees will be able to avoid this year.

    You see, back in June of 2014, Medtronic announced its acquisition of Covidien—a company based in Ireland—and then moved its “principal executive office” there. Much of its operations do remain in Fridley, MN, however – including its “operational headquarters.” But a so-called “corporate inversion” of this sort allows Medtronic to take advantage of that country’s lower tax rate on its overseas cash holdings.[2]

    Now to be fair to Mr. George, this move occurred well after he left the company (which he did in 2002). Nevertheless…

    Brrrr, Medtronic. That’s cold.



    See you next week.


    *An instance in which a business or management “expert” contradicts him- or herself, or otherwise offers paradoxical advice. This is often done without any apparent awareness of having done so. For more examples of this all-too-frequent phenomena, click here. For an explanation as to why it happens soooo often, please see Why you can throw out that management advice book (Parts 1, 2, & 3).



    [1] From http://www.medtronic.com/us-en/about/history.html.

    [2] “Medtronic to Buy Device Maker Covidien for $42.9 Billion,” by Michelle Fay Cortez and David Welch. Bloomberg (online), June 16, 2014. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-06-16/medtronic-to-buy-device-maker-covidien-for-42-9-billion.html/. Retrieved Oct 6, 2016.


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  • 5 minute read


    You know, it seems like it wasn’t all that long ago that Martin Shkreli of Turing Pharmaceuticals was considered “the most hated man in America.”[1]

    Recall that Shkreli was the executive who raised the price of Daraprim, a decades old drug used in the treatment of a rare parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis. It’s relied upon by AIDS patients and other individuals with compromised immune systems. That increase—from $13.50 per pill to $750—earned Shkreli a mention in a recent addition of “Mismanagement Quizzo” on this blog. (Keep in mind too that neither Turing nor Shkreli contributed to the development of this drug.)

    This week, an “all pharma” addition of Mismanagement Quizzo – in part because if you’ve been following the news recently, you know that Shkreli isn’t alone in engaging in this sort of price gouging…and in part as a nod to the industry in which yours truly was once employed.

    (By the way, Shkreli was forced to resign in December of 2015 after being charged with securities fraud. He is currently awaiting trial after posting a $5 million bond.[2])

    And so…


    (3 points for every correct answer; 1 point for each bonus answer)

    1. This pharmaceutical company engaged in “Shkreli-like” practices when it raised the price of a two pack of EpiPens—an auto-injector that delivers the generic drug epinephrine used to treat severe allergy reactions—from about $100 to $600.

    Bonus question: Name the company’s now unpopular CEO (pictured above testifying before Congress), and give yourself an extra bonus point if you know what she received in compensation last year.


    1. This company also “Shkrelied” patients by raising its drug prices, but in this case almost across the board. Those products include Nitropress and Isuprel (both heart medications), and Cuprimine (which is used to treat a rare genetic disorder).

    Bonus question: The CEO responsible, J. Michael Pearson, was ousted in March of this year. Name his successor.


    1. This pharmaceutical company was recently sued by the Federal Trade Commission for engaging in so-called “pay-to-delay” practices, thereby blocking consumer’s access to lower cost generic versions of two of its drugs, Opana ER and Lidoderm.

    Bonus question: What are these two medications used in the treatment of?


    1. This consumer health company and it’s founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes were media darlings until its blood-testing technology failed to live up to its claims, forcing them to void tens of thousands of blood tests in 2014 and 2015.

    Bonus question: What did this start-up do instead when their proprietary technology—which only requires a tiny finger prick of blood—didn’t work?


    1. Two former employees of this pharmaceutical company—Jonathon Roper and Fernando Serrano—were arrested on federal anti-kickback charges in June of this year. Prosecutors alleged that they had paid doctors thousands of dollars to participate in “sham” educational programs in exchange for prescribing millions of dollars worth of Subsys, a spray that contains a powerful painkiller known as fentanyl, and which is this company’s only product.

    Bonus question: For what other reason was the drug fentanyl recently in the news?



    1. Mylan Pharmaceuticals. Recently, the company has been accused of encouraging not-for-profits to urge lawmakers to add Epipens to a federal list of preventative medical devices. Such a move could mute the public outcry by eliminating the out-of-pocket costs of the device for individuals and families, but the federal government, health insurers, and employers would then be footing the bill instead – thereby allowing Mylan to continue to overcharge for its product.

    Bonus: CEO Heather Bresch received nearly $19 million in compensation in 2015. In a recent interview, she was unapologetic about being motivated by profit: “I am running a business. I am a for-profit business. I am not hiding from that.”

    Sources: “Painted as EpiPen Villan, Mylan Chief Says She’s No Such Thing,” by Katie Thomas, The New York Times, Aug. 26, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/27/business/painted-as-a-villain-mylans-chief-says-shes-no-such-thing.html?_r=0; “EpiPen Maker Lobbies toe Shift High Cost to Others,” by Eric Lipton and Rachel Abrams, The New York Times, Sept. 16, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/16/business/epipen-maker-mylan-preventative-drug-campaign.html?_r=0.


    1. Valeant Pharmaceuticals. In 2015, Valeant raised the price of Nitropress and Isuprel 212% and 525%, respectively, shortly after acquiring both. Last summer they quadrupled the price of Cuprimine, a drug that has been around for 55 years. And flucytosine, a generic antifungal medication they also own, is 100-fold more expensive in the US than it is in the UK, or Europe.

    Bonus: Joseph C. Papa was recently named as Pearson’s successor. However, his former company, Perrigo, has engaged in Valeant-like practices in the past, including merging with a foreign company to slash its tax rate.

    Sources: “Valeant’s High Price Drug Strategy’” by Gretchen Morgensen, The New York Times, Oct. 2, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/04/business/valeants-high-price-drug-strategy.html; “Valeant’s New Skipper is on the Same Tack,” by Gretchen Morgensen, The New York Times, April 29, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/01/business/valeants-new-chief-cuts-a-familiar-figure.html; “Is Valeant Pharmaceuticals the Next Enron?” by Joe Nocera, The New York Times, Oct. 27, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/27/opinion/is-valeant-pharmaceuticals-the-next-enron.html; “Valeant Board Ousted CEO Pearson After Weekend Phoe Calls: Source,” by Christine Wang and Scott Wapner, CNBC (online), March 21, 2016. http://www.cnbc.com/2016/03/21/valeant-ceo-pearson-leaving-the-company.html.


    1. Endo Pharmaceuticals. The FTC complaint alleges that in 2010, Endo paid Impax Laboratories $112 million not to market an authorized generic version of Opana ER until 2013. (In 2010, sales for Opana ER exceeded $250 million.) It also alleges that in May 2012, Endo compensated Watson Laboratories to the tune of $96 million to not market a generic version of Endo’s Lidoderm patch until September 2013. (In 2012, Lidoderm sales in the US approached $1 billion.)

    Bonus: Both are pain relief medications. Opana ER is an opioid agonist used to manage severe pain, and Lidoderm (aka lidocaine) is a local anesthetic used to relieve post-shingle pain.


    1. Theranos. According to an article in Vanity Fair, one patient in 2014 was sent to the emergency room after receiving “abnormally elevated test results” from a Theranos blood-testing machine. Geoffrey Baird, a professor of laboratory medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle told The Wall Street Journal: “There have been massive recalls of single tests in the past, but I’m not aware of one where a company recalled the entirety of the results from its testing platform. I believe that’s unprecedented.”

    Bonus: According to the same paper, after the company’s devices failed its own accuracy requirements, Theranos abandoned their technology and began using traditional, commercially available machines purchased from other companies.

    Sources: “Theranos Faces Yet Another Devastating Setback,” by Maya Kosoff, Vanity Fair, May 19, 2016. http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/05/theranos-recalls-edison-blood-test-results; “Everything You Need to Know About the Theranos Saga So Far,” by Nick Stockton, Wired (online), May 14, 2016. https://www.wired.com/2016/05/everything-need-know-theranos-saga-far/; “Theranos Devices Often Failed Accuracy Requirements,” by John Carryrou and Christopher Weaver, The Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2016. http://www.wsj.com/articles/theranos-devices-often-failed-accuracy-requirements-1459465578.


    1. Insys Therapeutics. According to a New York Times article by Katie Thomas, when Insys was in danger of falling short of its sales goals for the first time in 2014, Mr. Roper sent out an email stating the following: “There is no excuse for your docs to not take care of you at this crucial time.” Those doctors, he furthermore argued, needed to “give back for all of the hard work, long days and late nights you have spoiled them with.” According to the same report, events at which doctors spoke had bogus sign-in sheets with forged signatures to make those events look legitimate. One top prescriber was allegedly paid $147,245 in speaking fees, and another $112,340. Together, they accounted for $2.6 million in Subsys prescriptions that were reimbursed through Medicare.

    Bonus: Rock legend Prince died of an overdose of the drug on April 21, 2016, although it is not clear what form he took. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid estimated to have 80 times the potency of morphine.


    Want to find out how you stack up? Then post your score in the comment section below…



    All citations retrieved September 29, 2016.


    [1] “Who is Martin Shkreli – ‘the most hated man in America’?” by Zoe Thomas and Tim Swift. BBC News (online) Sept. 23, 2015. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-34331761.

    [2] “Shkreli, Drug Price Gouger, Denies Fraud and Posts Bail,” by Christie Smith and Keri Geiger. Bloomberg (online), Dec. 17, 2015. http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2015-martin-shkreli-securities-fraud/.


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