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Picking On Remicade, Canadian Marketing

June 19, 2007

I apologize if this seems familar but I couldn't resist.

(1) Schering-Plough markets Centocor's Remicade to countries outside of the US, including Canada

(2) Schering-Plough's corporate website focuses on trust. From the about us section:

To earn trust, every day.

Schering-Plough is committed to earning the trust of doctors, patients and customers every day. Our colleagues worldwide believe that trust is not easily granted, and that is the reason we focus each day on becoming a champion for our stakeholders.

(3) In 2001, the Canadian Broadcating Corporation ran a story about how Schering-Plough set up a corporation in Canada named "C.A.R.E." in order to offer Remicade to lower income residents. After several rounds of treatment, patients were requested to write letters or make phone calls to health officials to ask for Remicade's inclusion on an "approved drugs" list.

This became a national news story after a patient was told her treatment would be cut off if she didn't lobby the government. Although other patients did not report being cut off from the drug, the "grassroots" lobbying campaign was deceptive in that the health officials did not know that Schering-Plough was orchestrating the writing of thousands of letters. Health officals called it an unacceptable business practice. Regarding the scheme, the Health Minister at the time said:

"I don't fault patients. I certainly fault the drug company for undertaking as blatant a marketing strategy as I see in this letter. It's not an acceptable business practice in the healthcare field . .
"A person doesn't choose to be sick. You don't use them as pawns in your marketing scheme."


The full story may be read here: "The Remicade Letters"

However, the incident did happen several years ago. At the time Schering-Plough's website didn't mention "trust." According to their 2001 website, the company was more focused on how "to grow and deliver superior financial results year after year".