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PhRMA/Moore Exchange Harsh Words; My 'SiCKO' Post Generates Virtual Spittle
A few weeks ago, I posted a quick note about Michael Moore’s documentary, SiCKO, which premiered recently at the Cannes Film Festival.  Intearguing-_1.jpgrest in the documentary, which focuses on the US healthcare system, has been high.  In fact, Moore, responding to a report in BusinessWeek, which noted that PhRMA had a “spy” reporting on the movie from Cannes, issued a challenge to Billy Tauzin, head of the industry trade group.  According to an e-mail republished by pharma industry blogger John Mack, Moore said:

“I invite Mr. Tauzin to join me in New Hampshire later this month for a screening of 'SiCKO' followed by a town hall discussion with a group of undecided New Hampshire voters. Polls have indicated that health care is one of the top issues for voters and as New Hampshire is the nation's first primary state, the screening and town hall discussion will give everyone the chance to discuss how they feel about our health care system -- and specifically the drug industry. I am guessing, given that Mr. Tauzin has launched a glitzy paid advertising campaign featuring children, that he will be more than happy to face the public directly.”

PhRMA’s executive vice president Ken Johnson contacted Ed Silverman, author of the blog Pharmalot to deny Moore’s assertions, saying:

“”This is a pretty desperate attempt to drum up some publicity.  Billy [Tauzin, CEO of PhRMA] had nothing to do with this. I spent 15 years in Washington, and made a lot of friends from Hollywood. And one of them, who I'm not going to drag into this [let's call him Mr. X], called to tell me about it. And I got some pretty good blow-by-blow. But we didn't have a spy there, and we didn't send anyone there. It was a friend from the motion picture business.’”

While Moore and PhRMA were trading charges and countercharges, my post on the movie’s premiere attracted a significant number of comments.  Debate about the documentary has been heated, with proponents and opponents of single-payer/universal healthcare firing virtual arrows at each other.  One commenter even went as far to call another a “closed minded idiot.”  

Overall, I think the debate has been welcome and interesting to watch.  However, I would like to make this plea.  Feel free to discuss the issues, but let’s not stoop to ad hominem attacks.  

For more information about the documentary, please seek Mack’s review.

7 Comments/Trackbacks


Thanks for the link regarding Michael Moore's charge of PhRMA spying. Maybe you've seen my little spoof on what may gone on behind the scenes (see PhRMA Intern Makes Movie Mogul an Offer He Can't Refuse!)

But, more importantly, I invite everyone to read my review of SiCKO (see SiCKO is Boffo but Not Anti-Pharmaco, per se). As far as I know, I am the first blogger to actually see the movie before commenting on it.


Mike is trying to change your health care system by exposing what is wrong with it (there is a lot) as much as he can. On the other hand your organization is basically an apologist for the big pharma and you would never do anything to hurt your "memebers". Your job is to look after them and everytime there is an "attack" you are there to defend them. When they do do something wrong you are there to apologise for them in a most inovative way.
You oposite numbers in Canada are Rx&D and PMAC. They do exactly the same and are very successful in protection and apology job for their members. Further because we in Canada do not have anything close to your stong laws (Fallse Claim Act and others) that are used quite effectively by your authorities, our big pharma companies that are "sisters" of those south of the border, get away with almost everything. Do you not think that Pfizer, BMS and others that paid huge fines in USA , did the same misconduct with the same drugs in Canada? Of course they did but here no one is looking for the smoking guns to punish them. We simply have no laws or willing athority to fight them.
All they get is slap on their fingers and few thousands in fines from Rx&D or PMAC and keep on doing the same things. Why should they not do it? No good reason and they bring in millions in extra sales and profits. The tiny fines are just cost of doing business.
Everyone is happy in Canadian public health care system and yet it is not for you.

What some insight into Michael Moore thinking? Read the entire “Public Health Crunch” blog before you see the movie! (
This weeks topic is titled “Are CMEs becoming infomercials?”.

Past topics included: “Patient dumping” and “Me too drugs”

Take care.

Just saw "SiCKO". I guess with Congressmen / Lobbyst like Mr Tauzin, who needs enemies? Pivotal moment for me was the contrast to UK system where doctors get bonuses for making patients healthier vs our system where companies make money by denying care.
Hope Arnold can do this for California and show idiots in Washington some light.

Michael Moore's letter to CNN prompted me to do the same:

Dear CNN:

Dr Guptas' report of Sicko was useless and I listened with an open mind. He said nothing useful except that Michael Moore rounded up a number to 7,000. Way to go doctor! You found a mistake! I am offended that he suggested Michael Moore was unfairly leading the American public to believe things that are untrue and feeding us falsehoods. I am not a person naive and stupid enough to believe whatever is fed to me. I research as much as possible. Michael Moore represents so many Americans and he can speak for me anytime. A doctor (who practices in America) to argue government run health care? How stupid do you think Americans are? Highly overpaid doctors should not represent most of America, as you are far from the majority.

I am 40, a divorced mother of one, and I have no health care. However, I don't want it. I will choose, instead, to wait for free government health care and hope that it will soon be the standard here in America.

We Americans have paid for far too many fat salaries, coverage we cannot use, and overpriced prescriptions which all contribute to the wealthy getting wealthier, while the working class American must lose a loved one so that insurance execs can purchase another yacht, get another costly divorce, or reserve the hottest new sports car to feed their shallow souls.

I will be starting a letter-writing campaign to request that CNN offer the truth about our health care system in this country. Please include the government officials who enjoy the perks thrown to them by those all-too-important lobbys in Washington.

Why DON'T you try to pick Moore's movie apart, piece by bloody piece? Don't skim over it briefly with no information like your doctor did. Really try to prove him wrong! Why won't you? And for heaven's sake, get a conscience and apologize to a man who, like Al Gore, is just trying to raise awareness for a very important issue.

Why can't we ever seem to expose the fat, greedy, wealthy people scooping up all the pennies in this country? Does money really matter that much to that many selfish people that you'd rather all Americans remain clueless and quiet? Don't complicate things, simplify. What is the worst that could happen? You'd lose an advertiser or two? Maybe you'd even get a call from Bush! Don't worry, he's the dumbest American and I am quite sure HE is willing to accept any hot air you blow in his direction.

Sharon Jenson

RIGHT ON SHARON - - You definately said what has been on MY mind since I saw the movie. THANK YOU!

Can anyone explain why Henry A McKinnell Jr., chairman and chief executive of Pfizer, who is to retire in 2008, will get $6.5 million a year for life? His total pension payout is pegged at more than $71 million.

I can: Middle class America had to pay ten times more for prescriptions than they should have due to Pfizer blocking generic forms of their drugs. The sick will get the rich richer, and that is SICKO.

Michael Eisner got a post-termination bonus of $7.5 million a year for two more years, or one year if he takes a role at another major entertainment company other than as an independent producer. Also, Eisner got an annual annuity of $297,779 for life. Before he stepped down in October 2005, he got $9.1 million in 2005 salary and bonuses.

Mickey Mouse is EXPENSIVE! Try taking a family of four to "The Happiest Place on Earth" on a $40,000/year income! But we do it, so that we can see the smiles on the faces of our little ones. Eisner got rich at the expense of middle-class Americans taking a family vacation. Ever buy food in one of their parks? Just a lunch consisting of burgers, fries and cokes, can run you $50-60 dollars and up for a family of four.

Former chairman and chief executive of Citigroup, Sandy Weill got a supplemental pension benefit equal to a $350,000 annual lifetime annuity and access to Citigroup facilities and services for the rest of his life, including the use of Citi's corporate aircraft, car and driver, office, secretary and security arrangements. And, far from having to contribute to his medical benefits, as other employees now have to do, a filing states that Citigroup will continue to pay, for Mr. Weill's lifetime and his spouse's lifetime should she survive him, the premiums and out-of-pocket expenses associated with receipt of health and dental care benefits by Mr. and Mrs. Weill, and life and accidental death and dismemberment as well as disability insurance for Mr. Weill. Mr. Weill will also continue to receive a tax gross-up with respect to the imputed income arising from these benefits.

Lou Gerstner of IBM got a 10-year consultancy contract worth up to $2 million annually, plus expenses and full use of IBM facilities and services, such as office, cars, aircraft and financial planning. He only has to work one month out of the year. His successor, Samuel J. Palmisano, stands to receive more than $3 million in pension annually for the rest of his life after he retires.

Former ExxonMobil chief exec Lee Raymond got a $400 million payout, including pension, stock options and other perks, such as a $1 million consulting deal, two years of home security, personal security, a car and driver, and use of a corporate jet for professional purposes. He also gets office space and secretaries worth $200,000 for life.

Please read the rest of these descriptions at Forbes, its all public information.

An analysis released by a Democratic senator found that Vice President Dick Cheney's Halliburton stock options have risen 3,281 percent in the last year. For years Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld and others tried to convince Clinton to invade Iraq to "secure resources". They finally got their opportunity, at the cost of 85,000 lives lost, and an average cost of 10 Billion dollars a month.

Forgive me if I don't feel sorry for those who are asked to pay higher taxes. The Democrat who will take office must use these tax dollars to clean up the mess of a president the CEO's elected in to office, so why shouldn't they be asked to contribute to the financial mess our current administration caused?

Speaking up for, and helping those who cannot help themselves is not a new concept; its just been shelved since 2000.

Proud American, Sharon Jenson

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