In the weeks leading up to my father’s death back in April of 2017, I would sit with him and chat in the evenings after dinner, wondering each night if the conversation would be our last. By then he was frail, nearly 86, and suffering from congestive heart failure. He was praying each day for the Lord to take him home, and reluctantly, so was I.
Memories and family history were a common topic of discussion. My dad had lived a wonderful life – happily married for 57 years, five children, thirteen grandchildren, and even a great grandchild born just a few months earlier.
Like many men, especially, my father had taken great pride in his work. I asked one evening if he had any regrets, had he wished he had done something else? His response made me smile and even chuckle.
“I grew up and my dream came true,” he told me. “Ever since I was youngster, I wanted to be a purchasing agent for Pfizer, and I got to do just that.”
Boys dream of playing centerfield for the New York Yankees or starring in a Hollywood blockbuster film. My dad wanted to be a purchasing agent. I asked him why.
As it was, my dad grew up in the borough of Brooklyn, across the East River in Manhattan. At the time of his childhood, Brooklyn was a gritty and glorious part of New York, full of ambitious citizens, immigrants, and dreamers eager to solve problems and make the world a better place.
Pfizer got its start in a red brick building in Brooklyn back in 1849, and my father came of age when the company was challenged by the government to expedite the production of penicillin. Developed by Dr. Alexander Fleming in 1928, the antibiotic was considered a miracle drug and promised to save countless lives of injured and sick soldiers in the war. The company utilized its recently developed fermentation process for citric acid and delivered in a major way.
My dad was watching and reading about it all. It inspired him, and he wanted to be part of the company one day. He was hired after high school, landed a job in the company’s Brooklyn plant, and immediately got to work purchasing ingredients for Terramycin, a broad-range antibiotic. Then came Azithromycin. Then Lipitor.
As a kid, I remember him often quoting the company’s slogan: “Pfizer for the world’s wellbeing.” He felt like he was contributing to an effort to improve people’s lives by improving their health.
I offer this sidenote in somewhat good fun. My mother was an amateur nutritionist who bought vitamins and listened to radio shows and read books about alternative medicine. She used to rib my dad for contributing to an overmedicated country. He maintained that medicine properly administered solved problems instead of creating them.They both made good points.
I was thinking about all this just yesterday, when I read that Dr. Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, joined 400 other pharmaceutical executives criticizing Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk’s blocking the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, one of the two drugs used in chemical abortions.
The letter refers to abortion “care,” and suggests the Texas decision threatens the legality of other drugs.
“If courts can overturn drug approvals without regard for science or evidence, or for the complexity required to fully vet the safety and efficacy of new drugs, any medicine is at risk for the same outcome as mifepristone,” said the statement.
The letter fails to acknowledge what Judge Kacsmaryk noted, specifically that mifepristone was “associated with the deaths of at least 8 women, 9 life-threatening incidents, 232 hospitalizations, 116 blood transfusions, and 88 cases of infection.”
Not to mention the deaths of countless innocent children.
But as I read the letter and saw the signatures of Big Pharma executives, I couldn’t help but consider how my father had signed on to work for Pfizer because they were championing the preservation and promotion of life. That’s what drew him to the company.
Decades later, these executives and the head of my father’s beloved former company are now championing the right to preserve a culture of death.
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