Global attention has turned to Indian drug company practices after one man committed suicide, blaming his oppressive and high-stress career situation.
27-year-old salesman Ashish Awasthi cited his stressful job at Abbott Laboratories in India as the main reason for his suicide, leaving behind a wife and two young children. Awashti wrote:
“I’m going to commit suicide because I can’t meet my company’s sales targets and my company is pressuring me.”
It turns out that simply describing his job at Abbott Laboratories as “pressuring” was a massive understatement for Awasthi and other salesmen at the drug company. A closer investigation by the New York Times turned up a near endless list of corrupt business practices that violate Indian law as well as global ethics principles.
Salesmen at Abbott are encouraged to lie as much as necessary in order to sell the highest volume of drugs possible. Practices include setting up illegal clinics by unlicensed practitioners to convince people that they should go to their doctors and request specific medications.
Former employees of the company told the Times that they were pressured immensely in order to violate established laws and medical standards and fired for their refusal. Others resigned because they felt they could not perform what they considered to be unethical practices.
Some other employees say that they were forced to pay for bulk orders of medicine or cut inappropriate deals for other companies in order to push drugs at the highest volume possible. Some processed fake invoices to keep up with pressure from management.
The reason for these horrific practices is because things are growing in the Indian drug industry – and fast. India’s drug industry may be small change on a global scale, but they are growing fast and consistent. India’s drug industry is also defined by it’s loose copywrite laws, allowing dozens of competitors to manufacture the same knockoff drugs, setting extreme price competition.
In a country bursting at the seems with a booming population, a dependable job like salesman at a drug company is in high demand, meaning that individuals often feel they must remain at their high-pressure jobs. What’s more, they feel guilt at not being grateful for the abusive opportunity.
For Mr. Awasthi, his death is just a physical manifestation of the failings of the Indian drug industry and impact of failed regulations. Awasthi’s widow refused the check sent to her family from Abbott, saying that they must take responsibility for her husband’s death.