Sunday, July 29, 2007

Procter and Gamble goes dumpster diving

procter and gamble goes dumpster divingI tape recorded Procter and Gamble and other "researchers" involved in some problematical sponsored clinical research. That was an important thing to do. I have been waiting a while for an honest response. I have been waiting for permission to make available the hidden (and now revealed) raw data upon which P&G relied in their three scheduled Actonel ghostwritten publications. I have been waiting for a few other refused things (like the text of consent forms from patients upon whom I performed measurements).

Here is the correct analysis for one of the publications. Here is the correct analysis for another of the publications (Eastell et al., 2003). Here are the Data underlying all three publications (encrypted).

So far all involved have been a little evasive, giving artful answers to "questions" that had not in fact been asked. That seems to be to be a bad idea John Eisman.

While being politely patient, I found some most interesting old news reports about P&G's own spying tactics.
New York Times Page C7, September 7, 2001
P.& G. Said to Agree to Pay Unilever $10 Million in Spying Case
By JULIAN E. BARNES (NYT); Business/Financial Desk
DISPLAYING ABSTRACT - Procter & Gamble will pay Unilever about $10 million and agree to unusual third-party audit to settle dispute that arose after P&G acknowledged that it had taken documents from trash cans outside Chicago office of Unilever; Unilever had made demand to ensure that Procter & Gamble did not change its marketing or product development plans for its hair care business after reviewing about 80 pages of confidential Unilever plans
Procter & Gamble Admits to Spying on Unilever

In a disclosure that shines a light on the shady world of corporate espionage, FORTUNE magazine recently reported that Procter & Gamble, one of the nation's largest and most admired corporations, has "recently engaged in a corporate espionage program against competitors in its hair care business that even the company itself admits spun out of control."

P&G claims it did not break any laws, but a spokeswoman conceded that spying activities undertaken by a "corporate intelligence" company that was hired by P&G "violated our strict guidelines regarding our business policies."

DEFINITION: Corporate or industrial espionage is the practice of spying on business competitors to steal proprietary information, including product designs and marketing plans. While corporate espionage sometimes includes computer hacking, it is just as likely to involve non-technology-related practices, such as rummaging through a competitor's trash ("dumpster diving") or simply interviewing disgruntled employees.

P&G has confirmed that at least one competitive intelligence company it hired engaged in dumpster diving to find information on rival Unilever's hair-care business. The competitive intelligence operatives are also said to have lied to Unilever employees - claiming they were market analysts in a further effort to gather information.
Procter & Gamble vs. Unilever
In 2001, P&G undertook a corporate-espionage program by hiring a "consulting firm" to rummage through Unilever's trash and steal the secret formula for a new hair-care product. The two companies eventually reached a settlement; P&G agreed to pay Unilever $10 million. The firm hired to do the dirty work is headed by a former Green Beret and U.S. government intelligence operative who served in the Phoenix Program, a covert operation during the Vietnam War.

Remarkably this isn't the first time P&G has gotten caught in corporate espionage against Unilever. In 1943, a Procter & Gamble executive bribed an employee of Lever Brothers (as Unilever was then called) to steal prototype bars of a new soap Lever was developing. P&G used the stolen formula to rework its own Ivory Soap, which soon became one of the most familiar brand names in America. P&G ended up having to pay Lever $5 million for patent infringement.
One year later, P&G Pharmaceuticals signed a research agreement.

See also
The Ethics of Competitive Intelligence

The moral:
Before you criticize people, you should walk a mile in their shoes.
That way, when you criticize them, you've got a mile-long head start.
And you have their shoes.

The Lion (in The Wizard of Oz)

(Thank you John - a medical publication professional - for the tip)

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Anonymous said...

No consent forms?

soulful sepulcher said...

The quote from the Lion in the Wizard of Oz is a good one, and I hate to say it but it leaves one feeling, well...shoeless and screwed.

Now if I only had a brain.

Radagast said...

I've found that there are people/entities who would rather that one didn't walk in their shoes. The MHRA continues to engage delaying and evasive manoevres, rather than explain how it assesses a drug. I wonder why that would be?


Anonymous said...

I worked for this company, and espionage is s tiny thing compared to the corners cut on products...eventually there will be huge lawsuits
These guys know how to pinch pennies...they are the evil empire...
How did they get to most admired company?

Anonymous said...

I would suppose you have seen this

P&G is not in league with the devil

Anonymous said...

Quite a useful discussion about botched commercial spying here (HP)

It is tragicomic the way companies with massive Public Relations investment and staffing f**ck up on the basic logic of what they do - becuase the PR strumpets come from a different paradigm. Your blog a neat example of the comprehension gap.