Speech Alfredo Pequito, Bayer Shareholder Meeting, May 12, 2009
It is with humility, pleasure and also enormous apprehension that I am addressing to you, but before and above that, let me pay my sincere homage and thanks to all members of this noble organization, CBG, specially to Mr. Philipp Mimkes, who has been giving me a precious help in face of the moral and material damages that Bayer A.G. caused to me, which remain and even last, both at personal and professional level.
My name is Alfredo Pequito, Portuguese citizen and perhaps to most of you as a unknown man, to others the man who denounced to the Portuguese authorities the illegal corruption and bribery activities used by Bayer in Portugal – and continues to be used – specially among the Portuguese medical society (doctors).
In 1992 I worked in another pharmaceutical company as an expert on the hospital sector, when a high Bayer responsible invited me to join his company, which happened in December of that same year.
As soon as I started my work for Bayer I was informed that a high amount of money was at my disposal that was supposed to support and help doctors in their activities. This amount would be available whenever requested.
I never used such type of money, because I thought it was not necessary in my job, that is, to give to doctors detailed information on and about the qualities of Bayers products. That was, I thought, my main activity, as medical adviser.
Bayer classified Portuguese doctors as A, B and C, in accordance with the prescription power of each one. The Bayer representatives were supposed to search additional information about the doctors, such as number of children, hobbies, political tendency and even sexual tendency. These dossiers could be used to force doctors to prescribe Bayers products.
My question to the board is: do these kind of files also exist for German doctors?
At a certain time I was called to a meeting in the head office with my direct manager, the sales director, today member of he Board of Bayer Portugal, and the marketing manager who confronted me with the following question: the amounts at your disposal should be spent fast, and at the maximum of its value, so that, next year, Bayer reinforces our corresponding budget. We verify that you do not buy doctors, do not make credits in travel agencies on their behalf, and therefore doctors can not raise this money or spend their vacations or do anything, whatever and whenever they want. You do not present invoices of meals which can be transformed in money, for example invoices for 800.00 when the real value was 15.00/20.00, you do not ask for electro domestic devices, informatic material, you do not revert the money in golden pens, or make special protocols so that the doctors would be obliged to prescribe only our products.
I resisted to those fake practices and was put aside. On a certain day, after a normal working meeting, I was summoned to the Personnel Director office, where the Marketing and Pharmaceutical managers already were present and with a chilly clearness they told me: you do not buy doctors, therefore you do not understand and comply with the spirit of Bayer: you are fired The General Health Inspection verified later on, that in 1997 Bayer Portugal spent between 5-10% of their profits in this type of activity, which corresponds to todays value of 1 – 2 million Euros.
I thought it was my duty to inform the President of the Bayer Board at that time, Manfred Schneider, of such irregular situation. The answer and information that I received was that Bayer Portugal was an independent and autonomous organ, with its own management. This explanation was, and still is, an aberration and an excuse that belongs to the long history of excuses of this Company.
After my duly documented accusation, it was naturally brought an investigation, at government level, (General Health Inspection), led by a Magistrate of the Public Accusation (Ministério Público), who concluded that corruption had spread throughout the country. The conclusions are, if you wish to known its extent, compiled in 3 or 4 bulky books. And the conclusion of the investigation is that only those doctors who work for the public health department can be involved in accusation that means, around ten thousand doctors.
Which consequences did Bayer draw from these revelations?
Bayer then contracted a very well known Lisbon lawyers society – Jardim, Sampaio, Caldas e Associados – who were, at the time, respectively Minister of Justice, President of the Republic and Minister of Defence. Apparently the power of money is always in good terms with the political power.
Bayer and their cooperating politicians found a solution: the anniversary celebrating the democratic revolution of April 25th 1974 was a good pretext to announce a general amnesty, naturally including corruption crimes, which were therefore pacifically legitimated. The amnesty was granted to Bayer by the President of the Republic J. Sampaio and the Minister of Justice, V. Jardim - those same men who used to be active members of the lawyers society which defended the interests of Bayer.
There are also other activities that lead Bayer to be a bad example in the commercial activities. I refer essentially to medical experiments and clinical tests carried on in Portugal, without any control and knowledge of the authorities of my country.
For example Bayer in Portugal made a clinical test with a substance called Ecadotril. In an internal companys memorandum one could read “placebo 0 deaths – ecadotril 8 deaths. Besides the responsibility for these deaths, why did Bayer tried to hide, even to deny, this study ?
Is the Board prepared and willing to reveal all the clinical essays, as well the consequences thereafter ? Or is this dirty material is not to be disclosed to the public ?
The Infarmed, the Portuguese Pharmaceutical Department, that controls all the aspects concerning medicaments used in Portugal, was not aware of Bayers activities, which were hidden with the cooperation of the doctors involved. As a consequence physical damages occurred, including deaths, hidden to the general public and that only very, very late were disclose by Expresso, a weekly Portuguese newspaper.
Portugal never reported any secondary effects of Lipobay, a medicament that caused thousands of cases of mortality and morbidity everywhere in the world.
I ask the board, now many people in Portugal were prescribed Lipobay and how many got health problems?
Portugal also never disclosed the morbidity and mortality with Trasylol. For decades it is commonly known that Trasylol causes very serious secondary effects, and Bayer, the producer, also knows it. How many people were affected by Trasylol in Portugal? When do you finally exclude this medicament from the market ? Or it is the greedy and desire for higher profits, at any price (specially of human lives) that does not allow this?
Conscientious of all those facts, does not Bayer board feel shame and guilty of the various misfortunes that cause throughout the world ?
What directs this company to “buy the medical prescription, or said in a direct and cruel form, to corrupt doctors and pharmacies, everywhere ?
Or does Bayer simply not trust their own products ?
I question myself if you, with full knowledge of the daily sufferance caused by your products, are able to simply sleep in peace and appeased conscience ?
And finally, all this shameful policy of yours does not honour a powerful State like Germany. This country deserves the best respect of all, I repeat, all of us.
I hope that the Board has the courage and nobleness to answer all these questions; on the other hand I deserve the right to an answer, because, I confess, I am creditor of hard suffering in my life and my Familys life, caused by Bayer.
Thank you very much.