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Pfizer’s Moral Compass … or lack thereof

June 09, 2010 | About:

As a person that works next to a large Pfizer Inc plant (ticker: PFE), I have gotten a chance to talk to ex-employees who have become my co-workers. Over time, you get to realize that the company only cares about appearances and is driven by greed. The culture is really out of whack. Now, I have encountered a story that really bothers me. And having heard a handful of stories over the years from ex-employees, sadly this story does not shock me.

To understand the current troubling news, forget Pfizer for a second. Imagine that you own a small drug company with 5 products. These products are all profitable but some more so than others. It’s enough to live a good life. The company profits $410,000 each year and you use that profit to live off of. It’s a good life! When looking at the products, 4 of them generate $100,000 profit on $1,000,000 in revenues. A 10% profit margin. Now imagine that the 5th only generates $10,000 on $1,000,000 in revenues for a 1% profit margin. But this 5th product can save lives and you are the only FDA approved provider in the US. As the only owner, would you stop making that drug out of convenience?

Well, Pfizer was proposed a similar question and decided that low profit margins are not worth the bother. Pfizer stopped making the drug. An anti-venom for coral snakes actually. Pfizer made money on this anti-venom (acquired via the recent Wyeth acquisition) but not a lot of money, so it was dropped.

The question of whether you own a company in its entirety or only a small part via stock should not matter. Before investing in what could be an undervalued stock there are many questions to ask yourself. With Pfizer, a question needs to be, would you own a company that puts profits before lives?

So, now your only safe guard is to see the snake first (hopefully) and remember the famous rhyme:

“Red on yellow, kill a fellow; red on black, friend of Jack”

Just be sure that it’s not of the covered oil variety. The coral snake is found in Louisiana where oil clean up crews are working. 12 vials of antivenom are needed to treat a bad bite. Louisiana currently has 6 vials left in the state.

As an investor, would you want to own a company lacking a moral compass? As a business owner, you often have to make the right moral decision. Not just the right business decision. The fact that you only own a tiny fraction of a company when investing in stocks should not matter. (In my experience, this is just another bad example of Pfizer culture)

Disclosures: none

About the author:

Karl is currently a software engineer in Connecticut with a bachelors of science in electrical engineering from Clarkson University. He has been investing since 2001 and interested in value investing since 2005. Karl is continually striving to learn more about investment.

Rating: 3.4/5 (25 votes)


Avalon - 7 years ago    Report SPAM
Phuck Phizah...
Augustabound - 7 years ago    Report SPAM
Are patents transferable or sellable?

I just wondered if they could sell that patent to a younger company looking for a proven drug. They wouldn't need to spend money on patent approval since it's already on the market, potentially saving them millions of dollars. They would only need the cash to buy an already approved product.

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