By Dr. Padmanabhan – July, 2013
This column was triggered by a gushing puff piece published naturally by Brian McGrory’s newspaper – The Boston Globe – on May 21, 2013. Even by their standards, that piece was a new low. This particular gusher was about the second $125 Million given to Harvard by a Swiss businessman by the name of Hansjörg Wyss, on top of the $125 Million he had given Harvard already.
Harvard put his name on an Institute and gave him an Alumni Achievement Award. People should also note that Wyss himself states that Harvard molded him into what he became. When you see Wyss, you see Harvard.
Wyss has lived in the US ever since and built his fortune here, but never applied for US citizenship. For over 30 years Wyss has been the head of a medical devices company called Synthes and owned 40% of it’s stock. In June of 2012, he sold it to Johnson & Johnson for about $20 Billion. What the puff piece by the Boston Globe failed to inform it’s readers is that Synthes has a very nasty history. It has in fact, been declared a criminal corporation by the US Government. And it wasn’t a case of low level employees in some subsidiary far, far away that Wyss could not have known about. He was in the Federal indictment itself as Person Number 7.
Wyss’ company, Synthes, owned a subsidiary called Norian that made a bone cement called Norian XR that was approved for areas of the body that do NOT support the body’s whole weight. If injected into a bone that could be loaded with the body’s own weight, there was a very high proven risk that the cement would be squeezed out and kill by clotting the blood stream. Which is exactly what happened. Three people died.
There was sworn testimony in this case that it was Wyss himself, as the leader of the company, who decided that there should be no approved formal trial of the bone cement, Norian XR, but that they should instead bribe American surgeons with company stock to simply inject their patients with it, thereby massively increasing sales and profits. A 50% profit margin was achieved.
US Attorney Memenger said, “In this case, the defendants conducted illegal human experiments beyond the scrutiny of the FDA. They subjected frail and elderly patients – among the most vulnerable members of our society – to serious safety risks.”
Four lower executives were sentenced to prison for between 5 and 9 months. That they were imprisoned at all, a precedent in itself is because the Court found this scheme scandalously horrendous. The Judge went above the sentencing guidelines for the first time in 25 years. And in another precedent-setting move, the Office of the Inspector General insisted that Synthes be forced to sell the Norian company in order to save Norian from any association with Wyss.
Did you get that? The Inspector General said that the bone cement company itself had to be saved FROM Wyss.
“This is an egregious case, and it made us firm in our belief that we should draw a line here,” said Greg Demske, from the Office of the Inspector General.
The cold arrogance of Wyss’ company, which naturally reflects the mores of it’s leader, is evident in this statement – “Synthes remains committed to operating in accordance with the highest legal and ethical standards, and bringing closure to this matter will permit the company to focus on its mission to improve patient care.”
Naturally, Wyss himself is not in prison, nor did the Obama Administration hold him accountable personally in any way for bribing doctors and killing three people even though he lives in West Chester, PA, and not in Europe. Synthes pleaded guilty to one felony count and 111 misdemeanor counts as part of a Consent Agreement and paid a fine. Just like HSBC, a bank that knowingly laundered billions for known drug dealers and terrorists.
It is the knowledge that you are untouchable that forms the basis for such arrogant statements.
The PBS documentary series FRONTLINE recently ran a worthy episode called “The Untouchables” about how the Obama Administration has knowingly allowed rich criminals to walk. Numerous journalists have reported that ‘the untouchables’ are people who are super-rich and connected in some way to Obama via Harvard or other links. The Obama Administration, in turn, went to Court and declared that soliciting information from sources was a criminal act.
The excuse provided by the Obama Administration for not sending these super-rich criminals to prison or pulling the license of criminal banks such as HSBC was that enforcing the law on the powerful would lead to job cuts.
This past week, in sworn Congressional testimony by the Dept. of Justice’s new Acting Head of the Criminal Division, Mythili Raman, this excuse has been proved to be an outright lie.
The immediate benefit from that PBS film to good people in this country was that Lanny Breuer immediately resigned as a result. It now remains for other good people to hold Obama and his Harvard friends accountable for lying to the public about why they let their criminal friends walk. Was a donation to Harvard an indirect donation to Obama? As a Swiss citizen, naturally Wyss can pay only under the table.
It is very likely that the Boston Globe’s editor Brian McGrory knew all of this when he chose to not go there and instead ran just a puff piece, nicely deferential to Harvard and money and power.
The Boston Globe routinely runs articles casting aspersions on physicians who eat a pizza while listening to a lecture sponsored by drug companies. “After all”, says the Globe, “that pizza was bought with dirty money.”
The Globe also misleads it’s readers into thinking it cares more about the safety of patients than does the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine. But it runs positive stories about taking money from Harvard-associated billionaires who kill patients and walk. Naturally, there has not been a peep from the American Medical Students Association either about Wyss walking. The students would not want to jeopardize their futures at Harvard after all.
In a detailed article last year titled “Bad to the Bone”, Fortune magazine lays out the effect of taking Wyss’ dirty money on Jens Chapman, the Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Orthopedics at the University of Washington. When the Globe’s Carolyn Johnson quoted the people at Harvard taking Wyss’ dirty money, including Donald Ingber and Drew Faust, naturally saying all nice things about Wyss and his philanthropy just like Jens Chapman, surely she was fully aware of what she was doing and did not care.
This week’s ‘Moyers & Company’ on PBS showcased a brave young man who singlehandedly wrecked the outright sale of some of the nation’s National Parks. He attended the auction and simply outbid all the others for all the lots. The Boston Globe itself is on sale this week at an estimated $70 million. It would be wonderful if all the good people of Massachusetts could pool $15 per person and simply purchase the Globe outright. At the very least that would spare us all from puff pieces by Carolyn Johnson and Brian McGrory about Harvard-approved A-list criminals who did not care that frail elderly patients would die.
Dr Padmanabhan is a Board Certified neurologist who specializes in multiple sclerosis in the Boston area. He may be reached at email@example.com