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Tales From an AIG Insider
Ernest (Ernie) T. Patrikis is a partner White and Case. During his 30-year career at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Mr. Patrikis served as General Counsel for many years and later acted as Chief Operating Officer in his role as First Vice President. He also served as Deputy General Counsel and an alternate member of the Federal Open Market Committee, a staff member of the President's Working Group on Financial Markets that was created in the aftermath of the 1987 financial markets crisis, a member of the Committee on Payments and Settlement Systems of the G-10 central bank governors, legal advisor to the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, and one of the principal drafters of the US International Banking Act of 1978. Mr. Patrikis began his eight years with AIG as Special Advisor to the Chairman in 1998 and became General Counsel and Senior Vice President in 1999. As General Counsel, he directed one of the largest corporate law departments in the world, managing all of AIG's corporate, litigation, governance, regulatory, compliance and enforcement matters.
Question: How did you get to be the head council at AIG?
Ernest Patrikis: When I was 55 years old, and I had been at the Fed for 30 years and decided that I was the number two officer of the New York Fed, First Vice President, that they weren’t going to make a lawyer the President of the New York Fed. I decided it was time to move on and I called various people I knew in the neighborhood and amongst those were Hank Greenberg. I went and met with Hank and he was the fastest. He said he’d give me a call in two weeks, which he did. Wages, hours, conditions of employment. And I had no idea what I was going to do and I don’t think at that time he had any idea what I was going to do.
I worked for Hank for a year and I called myself – and it was the role that I carried out mostly at AIG-- a “firefighter,” for him, where there was a problem dealing with that problem, going to the next problem, and it also gave me a chance to learn the company. It was huge, compound, complex, I got to meet people in the United States and abroad and get a feel for the company. And then I became General Council there. But working for Hank was a delight. Notwithstanding his reputation.
Question: What are some misperceptions about Hank Greenberg’s reputation?
Ernest Patrikis: Well one, he certainly is tough and resilient; all of those stories are true. There’s another side of the man about how concerned he is about employees. How much loyalty and how important loyalty was with him. Those stories about when a head auditor in Asia had a heart attack in Thailand, Hank stayed up all night on the phone with doctors from New York Hospital and with doctors in Thailand.
The Star Foundation – and I don’t know if he started this or carried it out, he may have started it. Every employee for AIG and agents of AIG in the United States and abroad, and these were agents who were – as in Asia, they only sold AIG products, got a scholarship if their child went to an English language college. The scholarship amount was something like $10,000 or $11,000 and there had to be financial need. If there was no financial need because the parent was making a large enough salary at AIG.
So, when one looked at the Star Foundation’s annual IRS report, name of individual after individual after individual and I really learned the scope of it one day when I was in a private dining room waiting for a guest and this gentleman waiter, who was obviously from mainland China. I asked him what he was going to be doing Labor Day. And he said he was driving to Cambridge. And I said, “Why are you driving to Cambridge?” He said he was taking his daughter, first generation American-born, to MIT, and called it Star Scholar. So, for people like him, this individual, this was rather significant.
And that is really something that he really kept up with. Of course the amounts of money that he gave and the foundations he gave to health and medical, you see that at New York Hospital. But most of all, he truly cared about employee loyalty. Loyalty was extremely important to him. And I think that came out of, perhaps, his Army experience. You know, when he enlisted under-aged in the Army. When you’re in a platoon, you develop that amongst people, and he would sometimes say something, I wouldn’t be in a fox hole with that person, which, again, goes to loyalty and trust.
He decided, I guess, the Head of the Star Foundation was going to be stepping aside. Florence Davis was the General Council and was going to become the head of the Star Foundation, and I think Florence still is, and he asked me to be General Council. And that was a unique experience in that I had reorganized the Legal Department at the New York Fed when I was there as General Council. At AIG, I had to reorganize the Legal Department and put it into some semblance, and it took a while to get a feel for people, and that really for the first I would say, nine months to a year was my major task, was organizing this gigantic Legal Department. Even when I left eight years later, I’d say it was still a work in progress.
Recorded on November 9, 2009
Ernie Patrikis on the misperceptions of Hank Greenberg.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Vaccines find more success in development than any other kind of drug, but have been relatively neglected in recent decades.
Vaccines are more likely to get through clinical trials than any other type of drug — but have been given relatively little pharmaceutical industry support during the last two decades, according to a new study by MIT scholars.
An article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry raises questions about the goal of these advocacy groups.
- Two-thirds of American consumer advocacy groups are funded by pharmaceutical companies.
- The authors of an article in Journal of Bioethical Inquiry say this compromises their advocacy.
- Groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness act more like lobbyists than patient advocates.
The Corruption That Brought Prozac to Market — Robert Whitaker, Journalist<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bea9cff2b25efc18b663a011a679ba16"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UyaJExxFPAE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Consumer-oriented groups gained steam over the ensuing decades. Their efforts helped inspire the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act after over 100 people (mostly children) died from a sanctioned drug, Sulfanilamide. If not for the hard work of these advocates, this case might have been overlooked.</p><p>Early efforts also focused on the food industry, which was increasingly using chemical preservatives. The origin of Consumer Reports can be found in the consumer advocacy movement. Both the food and drug industries were getting a free pass to experiment on citizens with few repercussions.</p><p>These movements provided a social foundation for important advocacy work in the second half of the century. Female-led groups evolved to focus on women's reproductive rights, AIDS, and mental health. As the authors write, these groups struck a balance between working <em>with</em> and <em>against</em> current trends. Sometimes you need to craft legislation with officials; at other times, you have to rage against the machine with everything you've got. </p><p>Advocacy marked an important turning point in public health (and culture in general). These groups were tired of placating to a medical model that treated the male body as the standard. This wasn't limited to anatomy. As I <a href="https://bigthink.com/coronavirus/pandemic-warnings-rp-eddy" target="_self">wrote about last week</a>, a high-profile 1970s-era conference about the role of women on Wall St featured no women on stage. You can imagine what reproductive health looked like during that time. </p><p>Advocacy groups made real impact in public health. Then the money began pouring in. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"These groups were funded largely by individual donations with some foundation support, but in the late 1980s, newer women's health groups moved to professionalize, effectively splitting the women's health movement."</p><p>A number of groups resist corporate ties to this day, such as the National Women's Heath Network and Breast Cancer Action. Too often, however, groups argue that their existence depends on corporate funding. This can lead to uncomfortable compromises. </p><p>An estimated two-thirds of patient advocacy groups in America accept funds from the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma companies gave <a href="https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11673-019-09956-8.pdf" target="_blank">at least $116 million</a> to such groups in 2015 alone.</p><p>For example, over a three-year period, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which was founded by two mothers whose sons suffered from schizophrenia, received nearly $12 million from 18 pharmaceutical companies. The largest donor was Prozac manufacturer, Eli Lilly. By 2008, three-quarters of NAMI's budget was funded by the pharmaceutical industry. It gets worse:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"An Eli Lilly executive was even 'on loan' to NAMI, paid by Eli Lilly, while he worked out of the NAMI office on 'strategic planning.'"</p>
A customer waiting for his medication at the Headache Bar in a pharmacy in Sydney, Australia. Among the items on sale are 'Paigees with Chlorophyll' and Alka Seltzer on tap.
Photo by Dennis Rowe/BIPs/Getty Images<p>This influx of cash skews public understanding of drugs. It also influences advocates to overlook real problems caused by pharmaceutical interventions, especially when it comes to mental health.<br></p><p>For a real-world example, consider how Xanax came to market. As journalist Robert Whitaker <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2e829xdb4AA" target="_blank">explains</a>, an <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1463502/?page=1" target="_blank">initial study</a> was conducted to determine efficacy in treating panic attacks. After four weeks, Xanax was outperforming placebo, which is common with benzodiazepines over short-term usage. But it wasn't a four-week study; it was a 14-week study.</p><p>At the end of eight weeks, there was no difference in efficacy between Xanax and placebo.</p><p>At the conclusion of the study after 14 weeks, the placebo outperformed Xanax. By a lot.</p><p>Why is Xanax still prescribed for panic attacks? Because the pharmaceutical company, Upjohn, only published the four-week data. The 14-week data was not in its favor. Nearly forty years later, over <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/781816/alprazolam-sodium-prescriptions-number-in-the-us/" target="_blank">25 million</a> Americans receive a prescription despite its <a href="https://drugabuse.com/xanax/effects-use/" target="_blank">long list</a> of side effects and addictive profile. </p><p>As the authors note, many consumers are not aware of how advocacy groups are funded.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"An international study of groups in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and South Africa found that the extent of relationships with industry was inadequately disclosed in websites that addressed ten health conditions: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, depression, Parkinson's disease, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis."</p><p>That's a tangled web of relationships. Pharmaceutical industry funding negatively impacts the work advocacy groups should be focused on: protecting us. NAMI, for example, claims that as a "natural ally" to the pharmaceutical industry, it helps consumers access "all scientifically proven treatments." When the industry ignores evidence of long-term damage caused by its treatments, you have to wonder what's being advocated. </p><p>Although, as the authors conclude, that question is easy to answer. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Instead of drawing insights from patient experience to set organizational agendas and challenge industry agendas, today's groups are silent on high prices and drug harms, oppose efforts to regulate these basic rights, and demand access to drugs that challenge the safety and effectiveness."</p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
Want help raising your kids? Spend more time at church, says new study.
- Religious people tend to have more children than secular people, but why remains unknown.
- A new study suggests that the social circles provided by regular church going make raising kids easier.
- Conversely, having a large secular social group made women less likely to have children.