“Pharma Digs Deep for Haiti Relief” proclaims this Pharmiweb.com headline. Not deep enough according to my accounting!

As you may know, I am keeping score regarding the pharmaceutical industry’s donation of money and drugs to Haiti earthquake relief. Although many companies have pledged donations, most of those donations are rather small, especially when compared to the donations the industry made after the Christmas 2004 tsunami in Indonesia (see “So Far, I Have Donated More to Haiti Relief Than Pharma“, for an up-to-date accounting). Some rather large companies such as J&J, Roche, and BI have not yet specified what, if any, donations they are making.

Pfizer is playing it close to the vest as far as revealing exactly what its commitment is. Pfizer’s Jennifer Kokell, Communications Strategy, Issues Alignment, and the person behind Pfizer’s Twitter account (@pfizer_news), answered my inquiry about her company’s Haiti relief efforts in this email:

———- Original Message ———-
From: “Kokell, Jennifer”
To: johnmack@pharmamarketingblog.com
Date: January 19, 2010 at 9:50 PM
Subject: Pfizer – Haiti

Hi John,

In response to the devastating earthquake which recently impacted Haiti, Pfizer has been working with several non-government organizations to make a substantial pharmaceutical and animal health product donation and determine the most effective and efficient distribution and allocation of the products for the people of Haiti.  The company will make a monetary donation to designated NGOs and will also match all donations made by its U.S. employees through its “Pfizer Foundations Matching Gifts Program”.

(Product donations will include Zithromax and Diflucan, among others)

Our thoughts and hopes go out to all of the people of Haiti and their families throughout the world.


I think this is very non-committal and not a good “communications strategy.” For all I know, Pfizer’s main donation to Hiati may be the “animal health products” Jen mentions in her email (seems like the animal health division of Pfizer wants to be sure it is part of the company’s communications strategy). No dollar amounts are mentioned, although I’ve heard “hundreds of thousands” of dollars from other sources. Maybe Pfizer is carefully assessing the situation before it makes a public commitment. Who knows? It’s all so vague.

Compare this vagueness to Pfizer’s donation to 2004 tsunami victims of $10 million in hard cash and $25 million worth of healthcare products.  If we assume that “hundreds of thousands” means $300,000, then Pfizer is giving only a TINY fraction of that (eg, 0.9%) to Haiti (and some of it for Haitian animals)!

Merck and BMS have have pledged to Haiti relief only 20% of what they gave to tsuanami relief.

J&J has not yet responded to my inquires.