“The truth is we are not that dumb, and we are not that smart. Well, actually some of us are pretty dumb.”

Thursday 1 December 2005

Much less pernicious than Sony secretly installing illegal software that damages your computer whenever you play a Neil Diamond album, but just as insidious, is the corporate-sponsored product placement. Earlier in the year, McDonald’s tried to lure rappers into dropping some madd phat props to Big Macs in their def rhymes, for $1 to $5 each time their dope jams got played on the radio. Unfortunately for Maccas, playas are all about the Benjamins and the jacuzzi full of Cristal in the back of the stretch limo, not about the Abrahams and a furtive Quarter Pounder at a bus stop after last drinks. In the end, the deal never quite worked out, despite some high-level negotiations with MC Sad Fat Bastard and the Insane Clown Posse.
Now, also in the USA, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the pharmaceutical industry’s major lobbying group, has been caught out trying to secretly commission novels designed to scare Americans away from buying reasonably-priced drugs from Canada.
The original plot of The Spivak Conspiracy, the book’s working title for a time, revolved around an attack on the United States by villainous Croatian Muslims, whose weapon of choice is tainted drugs sold to Americans through Canadian pharmacies.

Then there were disagreements over money and the quality of the novel produced between PhRMA, the authors, and the PhRMA ‘consultant’ who brokered the deal. In the end, it all went horribly wrong:

Spivak and Chrystyn turned down the money, rewrote the book, and retitled it The Karasik Conspiracy. The thriller is due out next month… the book has an instructive new bad guy: A large pharmaceutical company, so far unnamed, has poisoned Canadian-sold drugsā€”and then tried to make it look like a bunch of terrorists were behind the plot.

PhRMA is now denying all knowledge of the plan (for the novel, not poisoning Canadian drugs) and has suspended the deputy vice-president involved. Also of interest in the article, is the finding published in the British Medical Journal “that lower prices do not lead to less research” in the pharmaceutical industry. Also also of interest is that serial liar Jayson Blair was also brought on board as an editor for the novel.