By Henry Ehrlich
Years ago when I was a corporate speechwriter my path crossed with a public relations consultant named Fraser Seitel, usually when we spoke at the same conferences sponsored by Speechwriter’s Newsletter. What goes around comes around and in this case it came around on the same side of the EpiPen scandal. His critique was different from mine (in part because he owns Mylan stock) but, hey, there’s plenty of room under the Mylan-detractor tent.
In a blog post for Forbes, Fraser called for Mylan CEO Heather Bresch to resign, following the example of disgraced John Stumpf of Wells Fargo. He said that Ms. Bresch looked like a “scared rabbit” when she showed up in Congress after being delivered by private jet to the nation’s capital.
Looking at the performance through the eyes of a PR pro, he had a very specific bill of particulars:
• “She tied herself up in knots attempting to justify the company’s profits on the EpiPen
• She failed to produce the revenue information Congress had requested.
• She insisted the company had saved U.S. taxpayers billions in medical expenses, but couldn’t explain how.
• Her only defense of her $18 million compensation was that it was “in the middle” of her industry peer group.
• And she kept referring to unwieldy and incomprehensible charts she had brought with her to the hearing.”
Then three days later, it was revealed that she had understated profits by 60% due to misapplication of US tax rates. (Maybe the accounting department was confused by the move to Netherlands. Understandable. After all, when you flee the country, you’re likely to forget something.) They also settled a government claim for $465 million because of Medicaid overcharges. Thus, the Seitel verdict—time for Ms. Bresch to throw herself on her auto-injector.