Yesterday, I discussed the resignation of Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler with Stuart Varney on Fox Business Channel. Here is a transcript:
Stuart Varney: This leads perfectly into our next guest. Joining the company right now is Peter Flaherty. He is the President of the conservative watchdog group, the National Legal and Policy Center. Peter, I presume you heard what our own Andrea Tantaros just said – that there is an element of politics in Mr. Kindler’s abrupt resignation. You would agree with that I take it, could you give us a little more detail?
Peter Flaherty: Stuart, there is a report in the Wall Street Journal this morning that Jeffrey Kindler was abusive to his subordinates and that got back to some board members. Kindler himself says he was just simply exhausted by the demands of the job. But I do think that there is a political dimension to this. With him gone, it is better for Pfizer. Kindler was the ringleader of the big Pharma CEOs in favor of ObamaCare. Now, Pfizer and the other big Pharma companies have to deal with Republicans on the Hill – and having Kindler there would not be an asset for the company.
Stuart Varney: Do you think that he is the first of perhaps others leaving big pharmaceutical companies, who have also been involved in a deal with the Obama Administration and the forthcoming ObamaCare. Do you think that Kindler is the first to go and others will follow?
Peter Flaherty: No, he is the second. Just recently Richard Clark, the CEO of Merck departed. It would be interesting to see what happens at Pharma itself, the trade group. Kindler was the Chairman of that organization. He resigned that post as well. The new Chairman is Chris Viehbacher. He is the CEO of Sanofi-Aventis. I think that Viehbacher struck exactly the wrong note this morning when he thanked Kindler and pointed to Kindler’s role in the passage of ObamaCare.
Stuart Varney: Peter, Andrea Tantaros raised the issue that Darrell Issa, who is going to be the head of a committee in the new Republican House may well have subpoenaed Mr. Kindler and asked him what deal did he in fact cut with the Obama Administration? And the threat of an Issa subpoena to Mr. Kindler was enough to force him out. Do you agree with that?
Peter Flaherty: Well I have no first hand information on that, but whether Kindler stays on as CEO or not – I think he should still be subpoenaed. Let’s remember what happened here. The big pharmaceutical companies cut a deal with the Obama Administration. They ran one hundred million dollars in ads in favor of ObamaCare in return for a guarantee of customers under the new plan and insulation from certain kinds of competition. This is back room dealing at its worst. I think that the CEOs of these big companies must heed the election results just as much as Members of Congress have had to. But it is not clear to me that they are. We actually are Pfizer shareholders. We last month filed a resolution for consideration by Pfizer shareholders on the company’s lobbying priorities and we were more prescient that we knew because we rhetorically suggested that Kindler would retire before the government made Pfizer sell its products for less than it cost for production.
Stuart Varney: Pete.
Peter Flaherty: We believe that under ObamaCare price controls are inevitable…
Stuart Varney: Well he is gone. He’s gone.
Peter Flaherty: …for big Pharma, so shareholders will lose.
Stuart Varney: Peter Flaherty, thanks for joining us. We appreciate your input on this.