Fourteenth Librarian Of Congress Sworn In Today — Carla Hayden: First Woman; First African American

September 14, 2016 - Leave a Response

[We plan to feature another first, in the morning, right here as well — and that will be a look back, thirty five years on, at USSCt Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s swearing-in ceremony.]

But today, in a separate first, Chief Justice John Roberts moments ago presided over another swearing-in — this time, of the 14th Librarian of Congress — she is a former long-time champion for the Baltimore Public Library system. She also happens to be the first African American to serve — since its founding in 1800 — as the Librarian for the largest (paper) library on the planet — the Library of Congress. Here is a bit, from local news coverage, this afternoon:

. . . .Hayden becomes the first woman and the first African-American to serve as the Librarian of Congress.

“People of my race were once punished with lashes and worse for learning to read. And as a descendant of people who were denied the right to read, to now have the opportunity to serve and lead the institution that is the national symbol of knowledge is a historic moment,” Hayden said at the ceremony.

Hayden has been a champion for Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library for 23 years. She has poured her heart and soul into the city’s libraries, leaving a lasting legacy. . . .

Now you know. Smiling broadly — ear to ear, here — so much going on — just so very little of it related to the life sciences, directly. But it happens that way, from time to time. . . grin.


A Relief-Inducing Epilogue: Scottish Nurse Pauline Cafferkey Cleared Of All Charges; Bonus Due

September 14, 2016 - Leave a Response

You may recall that we’ve been following the arc of her improbable recovery story, as an off-shoot of our coverage of the most-recent African Ebola crisis. [The vaccine used there, with unwavering success, you’ll recall, is a Merck product.]

This morning (London-time), sanity made a comeback, and the British health authorities ruled that a feverish, nearly non-conscious nurse could not (even if we were to affirmatively discredit all the eye-witness accounts) have formed the requisite mental state to “dishonestly deceive” UK health authorities (who themselves admit — they did not follow their own procedures, in deciding to allow her to travel onward, with what turned out to be an Ebola-related fever).

From this morning’s Guardian (UK) story, then — just a bit (do go read it all):

. . . .Pauline Cafferkey has been cleared of professional misconduct by a panel at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in Edinburgh following an investigation into her return to the UK after contracting the Ebola virus.

The panel ruled that Cafferkey’s judgment had been so compromised by her developing illness that she could not be held responsible. . . concluding: “In your diminished medical state you were swept along by events.”

Describing Cafferkey as an experienced nurse, the panel concluded she would not have acted against her training unless her judgment had been seriously impaired.

“There was no evidence that you set out to mislead Public Health England by allowing an incorrect temperature to be recorded,” the ruling said. . . .

One would hope that this finding will clear the path to her now long delayed receipt of that £4,000 she is owed — for having volunteered, and heroically-so, in Sierra Leone. Smiling, but slightly puzzled here (over overnight developments), in the city of big shoulders, as I prepare to walk in under cloud dappled skies. . . Onward!


Kudos, To Kenilworth: Once Again, Merck Maintains A High Standard — On Corporate Responsibility & Inclusion

September 13, 2016 - Leave a Response

mrk-corp-resp-2016 There will be no caveats here. Merck is clearly leading the way — in life sciences. I salute Mr. Frazier for his efforts, and his execution — diversity and inclusion is clearly good business. It may have taken us 50 years to establish this fact, but no one seriously disputes that it is a fact, any longer. So — Kudos to Kenilworth.

Do go read the full 2015-16 report, but here is the bit that most interests me (given my long-prior efforts at another life-science company, and the successes we saw there):


Throughout 2015, we continued to invest in diversity-related training for our employees. Employees have access to diversity and inclusion programs, conferences, other activities, and professional development resources to ensure their and the company’s ongoing success.

Unconscious Bias Education: Using thought leadership related to unconscious bias in the workplace, all company vice presidents and above were introduced to Unconscious Bias Education (UBE) as an enabler to identify the hidden biases we all possess and to mitigate unconscious bias in processes, practices and behaviors.

Micro-Inequities: We offer employees training options to reinforce our commitment to diversity and inclusion. One in particular, micro-inequities training, helps to create a more fully inclusive work environment by providing employees with an opportunity to learn about and avoid non-inclusive behaviors.

Executive Leadership Council (ELC): We support the ELC, an organization that provides recognition, executive seminars, peer coaching and leadership opportunities to help African American mid-career and senior-level executives with their personal and professional development.

Simmons Leadership Forum: We partner with Simmons to inspire and empower women executives. We recognize that developing the leadership potential of women executives and positioning them for success delivers a tangible competitive advantage for their organizations. In so doing, we send a strong signal to our employees that we regard developing, promoting and retaining female executives very seriously.

Women’s Sponsorship Program: The goal of the Women’s Sponsorship Program is to accelerate the movement and improve the readiness and visibility of high-potential women and women of color at our company so they can attain positions of greater leadership and responsibility. This two-year engagement between the sponsor and protégée is also intended to help build the network and personal brand of high-potential women leaders and to further their development and career. During 2015, 49 sponsor-protégée pairs were enrolled in the program; 67 percent were based in U.S. businesses; the remaining 33 percent were based in Asia, Europe and Latin America. Of those protégées in the U.S., 22 percent were women of color.

Women in STEMM (Science Technology Engineering Manufacturing Marketing): We hosted two Women in STEMM conferences, one in the United States and one in Prague for our women employees. The objectives of this conference were to:

Learn how to effectively enhance leadership skills
Introduce tools and resources to help leadership skills support career aspirations
Grow a network of colleagues across different divisions and functions
Understand the value women leaders provide to the future of our company


We partner with organizations in both professional and academic settings to net the company a more diverse mix of capable talent. We also have several recruiting and outreach initiatives to seek and attract a diverse candidate pool.

Our initiative with the UNCF provides scholarship and fellowship support to outstanding African American undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students pursuing studies in biomedical research. Since the program’s inception in 1995, our company has committed nearly $50 million in support, awarding more than 700 scholarships. Students also serve as interns within our company’s research laboratories with our scientists serving as mentors.

We partner with Hiring Our Heroes, an organization that provides employment opportunities nationwide to veterans with disabilities. Through external media relations, the company is able to demonstrate that 80 percent of jobs in the private sector have a corresponding job in the military. Each branch of the military produces scientists, engineers, photographers and doctors, all of whom are aligned with our company’s needs. To build awareness of this opportunity, we developed a special podcast, promoted on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce website, to address the benefits of hiring a veteran. Our ability to attract and retain military veterans as prospective employees was greatly enhanced through the podcast series.

In addition, our company recruits on higher-education campuses and, as part of its diversity-recruiting mission, visits institutions that have a history of serving African American and Latino students. We recognize these pools of talent to be a priority, and have allocated time and employee resources to focus on:

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs): e.g., Hampton University, North Carolina A&T State University
Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs): e.g., University of Puerto Rico, Rutgers

Moreover, our company has strong relationships and partnerships with the following organizations to support talent development:

American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES)
Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD)
National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA)
National Society for Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA)
New Jersey National Society for Hispanic MBAs (NJNSHMBA)
Catalyst—the leading women’s research organization
Hispanic Alliance for Corporate Responsibility (HACR)
Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA)
National Urban League (NUL)
National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCCHE)
ASCEND—largest nonprofit organization for pan-Asian business professionals
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates—for LGBT business professionals
USBLN─United States Business Leadership Network─driving success through disability inclusion
Society of Women Engineers (SWE), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) university chapters

Once on board, we utilize a comprehensive approach to ensure that all new employees have ample opportunities to network, build important stakeholder relationships, learn new skills, and hear the perspectives of the senior-most people in the company to broaden their insights and knowledge. We address workplace barriers to ensure full on-boarding for all employees.

One hundred percent of our Executive Committee members are mentors, helping and enabling other company employees to achieve their full potential. In addition, many employee business resource groups (EBRGs) have developed targeted mentoring for their constituents, recognizing that culture plays a role in how careers are furthered. Specifically, our Hispanos/Latino, LEAD (League of Employees of African Descent) and Women’s EBRG have formal mentoring programs. . . .

Now you know. Onward, as “we are all our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers” — walking now — on a perfect early fall morning. I’ll offer a little sweet street singing video bonus (30 seconds — entirely work safe), at right (from just yesterday afternoon), to put a bounce in your step — her pipes are. . . unsurpassed!

With green-eyes a-glowing. . . .


Technically O/T: 275 Years Ago, This Week… G. F. Handel

September 12, 2016 - Leave a Response

mrk-handel-2016 [But first, I should mention that — as expected — nothing of any real note was said by Mr. Frazier in New York this afternoon. Now that that’s out of the way. . .]

Here, we are regularly captivated by outsized achievements in the sciences. And, more than occasionally the same, in the arts. So it is, that for at least this one time, we will unabashedly-celebrate a dead white guy. Smile.

It seems fitting tonight — to mark perhaps the most enduring achievement of what was an unparalleled musical composing career. The career: G. F. Handel — the most enduring of his oratorios: “Messiah“.

That he wrote the whole thing in barely more than a month, in Dublin, Ireland, and presciently set the registers well inside the range of most average vocalists, while making a truly transformative piece of liturgical art — renders the work (in my opinion) beyond the ken of any ordinary musical composing genius — in the cleverness employed to deliver pieces so pleasing to the ear, while keeping it simple enough that my progenitors, average Irish vocalists of even modest training, might perform it — and perform it well, come the following Easter season, that of 1742.
Most of us know the rest of the history, here — of one of the most often performed works in history of classical music. But let’s hear just a bit, via YouTube:

Even Kings are known to rise to stand for this section — as we all know. . . and that — in an excellent acoustical hall — is a moment that always send chills down my spine. Every time. It never gets old. Never. Smile.


A Courageous And Noble Life, Well Lived — Snuffed Out, 49 Years Ago This Day: Human Rights History

September 12, 2016 - Leave a Response

Forty-nine years ago this morning, somewhere along a several hundred mile journey by police paddy wagon, Stephen Biko died in the custody of Apartheid-era South African police forces. He had been repeatedly beaten, suffered multiple blunt force trauma injuries, was by then suffering from severe swelling of his brain (due to the blows which caused his brain injuries) and had been comatose for several days — yet had been left naked in his cell, and denied meaningful medical attention.

However, as I wrote last month, the spark of his ultimate sacrifice — around an idea worth dying for — became an unquenchable bon-fire for equality, in South Africa. His murder led very directly to Nelson Mandela’s ascension. He died, that a supremely worthwhile idea might. . . live.

[The young leaders of BLM would do well to closely study the writings and tactics of Steve Biko and Mr. Mandela. The campaign’s effective reach might be thereby broadened.]

As I did last month (on the occasion of his arrest) I’ll ask again that we each ponder which ideas — here in our nation — should “live on.” Should we remain the most-free nation on Earth? Or should we build walls, conduct religious tests at our borders (and even more ominously, inside them)? The ideas written in our founding charter are too grand, too revolutionary, and hard-won, to sacrifice — to a thin-skinned petulant man-child.

Please — we all know so many who have died — that these ideas might live on: “out of many, one. . .” That is what our currency says (in the original Latin) — and it is in a very real sense the capital that has distinguished our nation, many times. Don’t turn your back on it, America. And do pause to thank Bantu Steve Biko, too. And thank all who came before — and after — him, who were willing to die for the ideas of pluralism, and the progress of humankind.


The eyes of the world are watching now… watching now.

It Ends (Again) — As It Began… In Silence. Deep Space Silence.

September 10, 2016 - Leave a Response

mrk-rosetta-2016 [Update: this site will fall silent on Sunday and Monday, as the fifteenth year since 9/11 comes and goes. We will honor the fallen, in silence — and resolve to demonize no genuine religious believer, as a scapegoat (though smaller minded Americans already are). End, update.] By all accounts, ESA (the European Space Agency) ran an excellent science mission with Rosetta — and little Philae. We’ve covered it from time to time.

But as is true with all good things, they do come to an end. On September 30, that time comes — for this pair.

As the unwasted grace of these waning elliptical orbits draws to a close, we will see Rosetta join Philae on the comet’s surface, albeit on the other side of the comet — and then fall silent. So it is with many pairs, initially found, then lost — separated only to be reunited, and then. . . silently slipping into eternity. Yes, that’s the sort of poetry space offers us. Here’s a bit, from ESA:

. . . .The final flyover will be complete on 24 September. Then a short series of manoeuvres needed to line Rosetta up with the target impact site will be executed over the following days as it transfers from flying elliptical orbits around the comet onto a trajectory that will eventually take it to the comet’s surface on 30 September. . . .

Now you know. In silence, too — there is solace — as they freeze, nearby — rather than burn at a distance. But as Seamus Haney said. . . after the commanded journey, there may well be no next time ’round.



Merck’s Next Federal NuvaRing® MDL Status Hearing Will Occur Next Thursday — The Agenda Is All Set

September 10, 2016 - Leave a Response

Just to keep the readership informed, here — the vast bulk of these have long ago (as of February 2014) agreed to the total $100 million aggregate class wide settlement figure.

There are some opt-outs, which will eventually likely be remanded back to the local District courts, from whence they came. Here is the Thursday afternoon order, from Missouri’s Eastern District:


Plaintiffs’ counsel Alonso Krangle and counsel for Defendants hereby submit the following matters for discussion during the September 15, 2016 Status Conference:

1. Update on Master Settlement Agreement process and dismissals

2. Update on general discovery

3. Proposal for remand of cases

4. Motion to dismiss Shaffer v. Organon, et al., Case No. 4:16-cv-00724

DATED: September 8, 2016. . . .

Now you know. Onward.


Chairman & CEO Frazier To Present At Morgan Stanley Confab in NYC Monday: Immuno Oncology Likely Focus

September 9, 2016 - Leave a Response

Just a quick little squib here: As it does every year at this time, Kenilworth’s top brass takes the choo-choo ride into Manhattan — to discuss its prospects, at this global healthcare investors’ gathering.

[Historical side note: Here is a bad old April 2008 era link, to when these conferences were far more um. . . colorful, and surprising — in all sorts of dubious ways. That is, back when “Fast” Fred Hassan would adopt a preposterous non-disclosure posture — one that directly contradicted what his 50-50 venture partner, at old Merck, had just said days before, about the very same 50-50 cholesterol management joint venture, even though the venture was then 55 per cent of all of legacy Schering-Plough’s profitability.] Where was I? Oh. Right.

If you want to listen in to the web-cast, you’ll need to sign in through this link on Merck’s investor relations page. Barring unforeseen circumstances, I’ll listen in — so you won’t need to. If we learn anything really radically new, I’ll summarize that late Monday afternoon. Here are the timing details (for those of you keeping score at home):

. . . .Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman and chief executive officer, and Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter, president, Merck Research Laboratories, are scheduled to participate at the Morgan Stanley Global Healthcare Conference in New York on Sept. 12, 2016 at 1:05 p.m. EDT. Investors, analysts, members of the media and the general public are invited to listen to a live audio webcast of the presentation. . . .

Busy weekend ahead here — to and from various geographically-disparate college campus events. . . but all joy-infused, just the same. . . .


Almost Two Full Years Later, Merck (Immaterially) Amends Its Q3 2014 Lobbyists Listings. Odd.

September 8, 2016 - Leave a Response

I’m not inclined to make too terribly much of this, but apparently on Tuesday, as we were all a little bleary from EBMP syndrome or “excessive barbequed meat poisoning” (or the itis, if you prefer!) Merck amended a nearly two year old so-called LD-2 form filing it had made — at the Office of Public Disclosure, at the US Senate.

It is there that all the lobbying reports are filed and housed — and made available for query style computer searches. The amount Merck spent in that quarter, as well as every issue upon which it lobbied Congress — remained the same, between the old, and newly amended filings. [I know, because I just black-lined them, in Word.]

The only difference is that currently amended version — as to lobbying both the House and Senate on “Section 340B (no specific bill), National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act (H.R. 1074, S.539), Eliminating Disparities in Diabetes Prevention Act (H.R. 3322), Oncology education (no specific bill), adult vaccine policies (no specific bill), medication adherence, DISARM (H.R. 4187), ACA Implementation (no specific bill), Hepatitis C education (no specific bill), HIV education (no specific bill), MODDERN Cures Act of 2013 (H.R. 3116), Prescription Drug User Fee Act (general planning), 21st Century Cures (no specific bill), Strengthening Medicare Anti-Fraud Measures Act of 2013 (H.R. 2925), Big data (general education), Alzheimer’s education (no specific bill), biosimilars (general education, no specific bill), general pharmaceutical industry issues and education,” now recites two fewer lobbyists’ names, acting on behalf of Kenilworth, on these issues — there were ten; now there are eight:

. . . .[Removed:] Tammie Brown. . . [and] James Carey. . . .

Again, unless these folks are now working on someone’s campaign, I am not sure why such a small matter would be amended two years later. My hunch (WAG, actually) is that the two have perhaps taken roles in HRC’s campaign — which itself has now clearly taken a stand on drug pricing, and access. Much of the topics covered above no doubt expressed Merck’s views — through its lobbyists — which are likely not consistent with those now supported by the presumptive next (45th) President of the United States. But as I say — that is just my guess. I do believe it is still true, under existing lobby disclosure rules, that these folks would be required to disclose their prior lobbying on behalf of industry, should they become part of the new Administration, in January 2017. And perhaps, this is one topic (upon further reflection) they did NOT actually lobby for Merck on, back in later 2014. We shall see.


Settlement Afoot? Merck Naming Fight Update: Scheduling Conference Once Again Delayed By Three Weeks, Now To October 7, 2016

September 8, 2016 - Leave a Response

As a general rule, based on years of experience, once the involved legal teams reach four consecutive continuances — of what would be a routine hearing, if the parties were ardently angling to go to trial — I would take this latest one as a highly-probable sign — that serious settlement discussions are progressing.

[Back-story here — it is the continual bumping of the dates — from June, to July; from July to September; and now well into October — that has me smelling settlement, and a long form global agreement — on naming and advertising conventions, between these two wholly-unrelated behemoths.]

I could be wrong, but the thought is that no one really wants to waste the court’s time — and the clients’ money, more importantly — traveling and appearing, to set trial schedules, if a settlement may be soon reached. So, that’s my bet — from the overnight order, in the federal District Court of New Jersey, then:

. . . .Reset Hearings: The Scheduling Conference set for 9/14/2016 is adjourned to 10/7/2016 at 9:30 a.m. in Newark – Courtroom 2C before Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer. . . .

Onward. Gray; somewhat somber here.