Sydney Taurel, CEO of Lilly has just announced that he has Benjamin Franklin on his shoulder to act as instigator for his ideas and "role model".
Yes that's the Ben Franklin, innovator, inventor and general good bloke. The Franklin who stressed that the new republic could survive only if the people were "virtuous in the sense of attention to civic duty and rejection of corruption". The Franklin who actually invented stuff, and who "made no effort to patent or profit from any of his inventions" (though Ben would have had no problem with honest profit from innovation). This is the Franklin who believed in free speech and liberty.
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
-- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
"If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed."Perhaps Taurel sought advice from Ben before his company bullied academics, lawyers and patients in a foolish attempt to prevent publication of the Zyprexa documents.
-- Benjamin Franklin, 1730
A revised academic analysis of Lilly's decisions needs to take place through this new prism.
- Would Franklin have suppressed data about several deaths in a secret clinical trial that was not published or conveyed to doctors?
- Would Ben have funded such stellar and honorable scientists as Martin Keller and Charles Nemeroff?
- Would Ben have threatened legal action against the British Medical Journal on semantic grounds to do with the meaning of the word "missing" while ignoring the real issue ("BMJ is standing by its more important claims that Lilly was aware of some of the drugs adverse effects as early as the 1980's, yet tried to minimise their likely negative effects on prescribing")?
- Would Franklin, the innovator, have attempted to maintain monopoly sales of his third rate antipsychotic drug (Zyprexa) after his patent ran out - through use of a trick? Seemingly Lilly persuaded someone to grant an extra patent on the irrelevant basis of an amateurish study in a few dogs which suggested olanzapine might be good for your cholesterol! Perhaps the patent prevented Lilly from properly conveying to doctors and patients the full extent of drug-induced diabetes and early death. That sure sounds like Franklin to me.
- Would Franklin have done this, or this, or this, or this, or this?
See here for some more on Sydney Franklin Taurel's comments in his "Franklin" speech.