NOTE: Perrigo now owns Sergeant’s Pet Care. I started this article quite a while ago, but never completed it. I’ll update with further posts as time allows. This is of great concern to me as it appears follow up by the FDA for issues with human medications has been slow. What happens when there is a “mix up” with a pet pesticide? It’s toxic already by nature and in your home remaining as house dust, on your pets and around your children.

Perrigo is the largest US manufacturer of private label over the counter pharmaceuticals. Private label is a term used when a company makes a product and then slaps your company name on it, much like “Target Brand”. Perrigo makes human health care products, generic prescription drugs, active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and most recently, pet flea and tick products through their recent purchase of Sergeant’s Pet Care and Pet Armor. Most of their business, thanks to many corporate take overs, takes place in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, Mexico, India and Europe.

Joseph C. Papa is the CEO and President of Perrigo. In 2012 Perrigo had a net revenue of $3.2 billion.

Despite awards such as 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For of West Michigan awarded Perrigo overall “Best of the Best” for 2009 [NOTE: On the Best & Brightest website, they have no mention of Perrigo, however it is listed in the investor packages of Perrigo] and being named by Fortune Magazine as one of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in 2010, Perrigo harbors a spotty past.

Repeatedly Perrigo has had issues with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) primarily regarding mix ups in tablets. This usually happens when the equipment is not fully cleared of the past medication before filling new medication. In one instance, metal shavings ended up in medication. In a 2010 warning letter, the FDA investigator is clearly frustrated:

Your firm has had an ongoing program since 2005 to address mixups. However, your firm continues to receive complaints regarding this issue, and despite past assurances that previous enhancements would control this problem, deviations continue.

What better way to avoid further scrutiny by the FDA than to hire one of their own! That’s right! Here comes what is known in the industry as The Revolving Door. The Revolving Door refers to heads of the FDA, EPA and other governmental regulatory agencies later working for the very industry they were supposed to be impartial about when they had their government jobs. Sure, they have expertise in regulations and government procedures, but they also have something else much more valuable to industry – close relationships with those that still work in the regulatory agencies.

In September 2013, Perrigo announced that Keith Webber would become Head of Regulatory Review for Perrigo.

Prior to accepting the Perrigo position, Keith served as Acting Director of the Office of the FDA’s Pharmaceutical Science in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), which regulates over-the-counter and prescription drugs, including biological therapeutics and generic drugs. Prior to that, he served as Director of Office of Generic Drug (OGD), where he directed FDA regulation of generic pharmaceuticals including, legal, chemistry, bioequivalence, microbiology, clinical and labeling. He also served in several leadership roles within the FDA responsible for regulating pharmaceutical quality, biopharmaceutical drug development and monoclonal antibody-related biopharmaceuticals research and review.

There’s a saying in business, “Shit flows downhill”. That means that often those under the bad apple are the ones that take the flack for bad behavior higher up the corporate food chain. It is also true that an altruistic CEO makes for a more or less altruistic corporate body of employees and the reverse is also true. If you have a crooked CEO, the company will be fraught cleaning up the mess.

So who is Joseph C. Papa really? On paper he looks good. According to the blurb on the Perrigo website, he joined Perrigo in 2006 as the CEO. From 2001 to 2004 he worked for Watson Pharmaceuticals as CEO. While there he was named in a class action lawsuit brought by the Teamsters on behalf of the Employees Pension Fund. He was accused of defrauding the pension, harming many people by his actions. The case was later tossed out due to legal loopholes.

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