Carrots, Sticks & Useful Idiots

In December 2007, Merkuri Stanback entered the Park Community Federal Credit Union in Macon, Georgia brandishing a firearm. Stanback and his cohorts restrained employees and ransacked the teller area before making off with almost $200K. When Stanback was arrested, a prosecutor declared that “bank robbers should be put on notice that they will serve the full term of years imposed because there is no parole in the federal system.”

Had prosecutors released Stanback and his loot with a $5,000 fine, we could appreciate the deal that AstraZeneca received this week. The pharmaceutical giant paid a $520 million fine for bribing doctors into illegally prescribing a psychotropic drug that causes suicidal and homicidal ideation, weight gain, depression, nightmares, cancer, high blood pressure, and other deadly diseases. The fact that pharmaceutical executives paid a small fraction of their profits to avoid prison for a scheme that injured thousands and generated as much as one quarter of the company’s $32 billion revenues in 2009 is not unusual.

To equal AstraZeneca’s crimes, Mr. Stanback would have had to pistol-whip every teller during the commission of nearly 40,000 robberies. And while Stanback exposed a few people to threats and violence, adverse drug reactions (ADR) typically injure or kill millions of Americans every year. (Story at

1 Response to “Carrots, Sticks & Useful Idiots”

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