In today's fast-paced age of high stress and instant gratification, the answers to most ailments come in pill form. Pharmaceutical companies are making billions of dollars off this mentality despite the many negative side effects caused by these medications. If it is known that these chemicals can cause issues and possible harm, why are they prescribed to the public? How are these companies convincing the public to risk such harmful side effects?
In this, her debut novel, author Erica Bernstein, MD, uses the insider knowledge she gained as a former employee of a major pharmaceutical company to unveil much of the immorality and complete disregard for ethical responsibility under which "Big Pharma" operates. She explores the corruption and manipulation of the institutions put in place to protect the public from corporate and medical danger, as well as the deceitful marketing methods that convince average Americans to risk extreme side effects in order to relieve even mild ailments that can often be treated non-chemically. Dr. Bernstein identifies important issues in the regulation of medical drugs in this captivating medical drama. She opens the "curtains" beyond the wall, there where the Universe is saturated of"poisonous side effects" of chemical drugs of the "BIG PHARMA" and where the BILLIONS dollars wear the "stigma" of their crimes, corruptions, bribes and dishonesty.
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THE CORPORATE'S DOGSBASED ON A TRUE STORY
By ERICA BERNSTEIN
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Erica Bernstein, MD.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSpring 2009, Boston, Massachusetts
It is 7:30 Monday morning, on a beautiful, sunny day in a unique American landmark. Situated in the North Atlantic region of the United States, charismatic Boston meets the open sea. Downtown offers a magnificent view; the European architecture combines with the sea view, giving the city an authenticity found in no other city in the country. The trees and the spring flowers are ready to bloom, and some are ready to pick, and you can smell their perfume in the air. I have left my car window down just enough to feel the fresh breeze. As it's rush hour, cars are everywhere. Everybody's in a hurry, and some drivers beep their horns at other drivers. The entire city seems to be under attack by these cars!
I pass the Keystone Building and then the First National Bank of Boston. On the right is the Old State House and Clock Tower, and straight ahead is the Massachusetts State Capitol.
I have a few lights to pass before I get to the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse and meet with my lawyers. Today is a big day for me, and I have to admit that I feel quite nervous because I have never been in a courtroom before, and today I will be the plaintiff.
Oh no. I have to push the brake very hard to prevent a collision with another car that just crossed the intersection on a red light. Crazy world!
"The John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse was designed by Henry Cobb and completed in 1998. The magnificent building is located on the Fan Pier Waterfront site, overlooking historic Boston Harbor. It serves as the headquarters for the United States Court of appeals for the First Circuit and the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, housing twenty-seven courtrooms in all. The building was named in honor of Congressman Moakley, a public servant and lifelong South Boston resident.
The attractive Harborwalk at the Moakley Federal Courthouse wraps around the west edge of the Fan Pier, providing a stunning panoramic view of Boston Harbor from downtown to East Boston. Visitors to the courthouse can arrange to take an hour-long tour highlighting the art of artist, Ellsworth Kelly, as well as temporary exhibits of the ground floor of the courthouse. The law library on the top floor is also open to the general public.
During the summer, boat transportation to "Little Brewster Island" is available from the boat dock."
One more light and I will be there. I'll arrive thirty minutes early, enough time to meet with my attorneys and get familiar with the courtroom. The parking is adjacent to the courthouse on Northern Avenue and the Fun Pier. Parking is always a problem, so hopefully I'll get lucky and find a good spot.
Here we go—right here, perfect.
After I get into the building, I have to pass through the security check-in. The officer guides me to room 25, where the hearing is going to start in twenty minutes. I look for my attorneys, and I can't see them. But I see the other party on the left side of the courtroom, waiting for their lawyers too. We don't exchange any salutations—of course not; we are in a "war!"
The door opens, and my attorneys walk in, along with the opposing side's attorneys. The lawyers exchange greetings and find their seats in the front of the courtroom.
I go to the side of the room where my attorneys are seated. "Good morning, Ms. Roswelt."
"Good morning, Ms. Celeste," my lawyer replies. "Did you find everything okay?"
"Yes," I assure her, "except the traffic was congested."
"Yeah, I know," Ms. Roswelt agrees. "It's very unpleasant. But here we are; that's all that matters."
I am represented by Cinthya Roswelt of Reeds Law Firm. Cinthya is a very pleasant person. Forty-four years old, she has short, red hair and brown eyes. She has a very strong personality, a dramatic tone of voice, and a great reputation in the area. She is accompanied by another lawyer from the firm; they are working together on my case.
The defendant, Mr. Larry Burbon from Renovex Pharma, is represented by Mr. Roger Cantone of Lewis Law Firm. Mr. Cantone is about fifty years old. He's tall, has dark hair and black eyes, and wears a round beard and glasses.
I think it's about time to introduce myself. I am Sophia Celeste. At thirty-seven years old, I'm of medium height and am slender. I have long, dark-blonde hair; green eyes; and an "irresistible smile"—that's what people remark about me.
My lawyers and I exchange some information regarding the hearing that's about to start in a few minutes.
The room is quite large and full, with the audience and the jury—six males and six females.
The defendants and their lawyers are on the left side of the room, and I can see two "big dogs" from the corporation sitting on the second row behind their group.
The entire audience keeps silent; we expect the judge to enter at any moment, so the "show" is going to begin.
The door opens, and the bailiff announces loudly, "All rise!"
The judge appears in front of the audience in his black robe with a white collar. He is in his late fifties, of medium height, and has white-gray hair and glasses. His name is William Berman, and he has been a judge in this federal court for about four years.
"Please, be seated," Judge Berman says.
The bailiff announces the case:
Civil Action No. JFL 099-19747, Jury demanded. Plaintiff, Sophia Celeste, vs. Renovex Pharma, Defendant.
Count no. 1: Sexual harassment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Count no. 2: Retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The defendant is a multibillion-dollar drug company with headquarters in California. The company's last annual report estimated more than $300 billion in sales revenue.
The judge is anxious to start. "Are you ready?" he asks, addressing both parties.
Each of the lawyers replies, "Yes, Your Honor."
A transcriptionist is typing already.
Judge Berman. Ms. Celeste, would you please stand up and raise your right hand and swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth?
Sophia, standing. Y es, I do.
Judge Berman. Ms. Celeste, you understand that from this moment you are under oath.
Ms. Roswelt. Ms. Celeste, would you please tell us your full name, your age, and your address?
Sophia. My name is Sophia Celeste. I am thirty-seven year old, and I live at 1015 Cross Circle Street in Boston, Massachusetts
Ms. Roswelt. C an you tell us your professional background—the name of the company for which you were working in this period and your job title?
Sophia. My background is in biology, and I was working for Renovex Pharma as a pharmaceutical sales representative.
Ms. Roswelt. Ms. Celeste, who hired you and to whom did you directly report?
Sophia. I was hired by Mr. Steven Brown, the regional director of the Northeast Atlantic area, and I directly reported to Larry Burbon, the regional manager.
Ms. Roswelt. Can you walk us through your story, from the beginning, as well as you remember, please?
After a few moments, I start to tell my incredible story, which everybody will remember for a long time.
Sophia: I remember it was in the beginning of May, yes, May 14, about 7:00 p.m., when I arrived at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Boston for a job interview with Larry Burbon, the area manager for Renovex Pharma.
* * *
That morning, I was very excited about the opportunity to move forward with my career and join a company where I would be able to combine my medical knowledge and my ability as a salesperson.
Today is going to be a special day, I thought. Today is my day! My dream will come true. I will have a brilliant career, and my dream will become a reality right now.
In the past, I'd worked, just for a short period and just for fun, as a fashion model. I loved it, and I have to admit, even today, most people remark that I look like a million bucks.
That day, I wore a navy suit with a silver lace top, a golden necklace and earrings, and my beautiful emerald ring from my mom, which would bring me good luck. I decided put on some makeup—a blue-gray color on my eyes and pink rouge on my lips. I finished with a very light, fresh perfume.
After I finished with the meeting at the company I was working for, I was going to visit some of my customers in the area. So by 5:00 p.m., I'd be done and I could drive to my job interview. I was so excited to work for a company like this one; I thought many people would like it too. And why not? Just think about it; the job came with a very good salary, bonuses, a company car, a 401(k), health insurance—the complete package. What else would you want? This was the dream job—an American dream.
Here you go, girl, I told myself. I was so happy.
Interestingly, I turned the radio on, and there was legendary Bob Marley with his song, "Three little birds": singing "Don't Worry, Be Happy.".
"Don't worry, be happy," I sung along.
My cell phone rang. "Hello," I answered.
"Where are you?" Andy asked. "Are you on the way to the interview?" Andy was a friend of mine. He'd actually done the networking for me; he'd told me about this company and had set up the interview with the area manager for tonight.
"Yes," I told him. "I'm almost there."
"Don't forget to maintain eye contact," Andy coached. "Think a few seconds before you answer. And remember this—you are the perfect pearl for this company. Believe me; they will be very thrilled to have you on board. So, please, be confident and don't forget to smile your irresistible smile!"
"Thank you, Andy," I replied.
"And don't forget to call me," Andy added. "I'd like to know how the interview went. Good luck!"
After parking the car, I went to the reception desk and asked for Mr. Larry Burbon. The receptionist called Mr. Burbon's room and turned to me. "Ma'am, Mr. Burbon will meet with you on the second floor in front of the bar in ten minutes."
"Thank you, sir," I replied.
I took the stairs and went to the second floor. I waited in front of the bar to meet with Mr. Burbon. To be honest, I'd never stood alone at a bar, so I didn't feel comfortable at all. But ten minutes would go by soon. The barman asked if I would like something to drink. I explained to him that I was waiting for somebody. Ten minutes passed, then fifteen, and finally, after twenty minutes, I saw a casually dressed man coming toward me, and I realized that this must be Larry Burbon.
He was a tall guy, with dark hair and brown eyes. I guessed he was about forty-eight years old. He was very expansive in his behavior. He liked to be important, and he showed this very well!
"Hi," he said. "I'm Larry Burbon. You must be Sophia. Sorry for the delay, but I had to take a shower. I was golfing the entire day with some of my potential customers in the area. What would you like a drink? Crown Royal, a martini, whiskey, wine, beer?
"Oh, no thank you," I replied. "I'm not a drinker."
Larry turned to the barman. "Crown Royal, please," he said. Then he turned back to me. "I am so hungry, I'm starving. Let's go over here on the right; there's a nice seafood restaurant that has very good seafood. Then we can talk."
I followed him to the restaurant, thinking how the interview would be. It sounded very interesting and unusual to me, but I had no choice other than to follow him, right? That's why I was here—for the interview—so I didn't think about these details. I tried to focus on the topic at hand—the interview.
The hostess gave us a table with a view to the street and downtown. At this time, the place was pretty crowded, with people going up and down and cars beeping their horns from time to time.
Then the waitress came to the table, presenting the menu and asking what we would like to order.
"We would like a platter of oysters, first," Larry said. To me, he said, "Do you like oysters?"
"Yes, sir," I replied. "Thank you."
"Please, call me Larry," he said. "By the way, were you born in Boston?"
"No, sir. I was born in New Orleans."
"I like your Cajun accent; it's very interesting." Then he changed the subject. "I heard that your background is in biology. This will help you getting into the physicians' doors. They would like you very much. Are you married? Do you have children?"
"Sir, I was married," I told him. "And I have one child."
"So, what happened?" he asked. "Are you divorced?"
"No, sir. My husband died in a car accident few years ago."
"I am sorry to hear that."
"How about you?" I asked.
"Oh, I'm getting a divorce from my wife," Larry replied. "She is crazy, man. I have three children."
"I'm sorry to hear this," I said.
"I'm happy," he replied quickly. "Don't worry." To the waitress, he said, "Another Crown Royal, please." Then he focused on me again. "Please take some oysters. I love oysters!" He took some oysters on his fork, trying to feed me, with his own fork, than moving his tongue in his mouth in a terrible way before he actually started to eat—you know what I mean, right? It was very disgusting! And he smiled in a suggestive way at me.
I turned my head in another direction, pretending that I was watching out the window.
"I love Crown Royal," Larry continued. "Man, it is so good. It's my preferred drink." He turned to the waitress. "Another one, please." Then he looked at me. "I love your dark-blonde hair. Did you always have this beautiful, long hair? Tell me, Sophia, what are your hobbies?"
"I love to swim, especially in the sea," I told him.
"All right!" He smiled. "There is a big pool in this hotel. We can go there to swim and have some fun!"
"Thank you," I replied, "but I have to get to sleep early tonight. Tomorrow morning, I have a meeting with the company I work for." Inwardly, I was shocked.
"No problem. You can call in sick," Larry suggested. "Everybody does that kind of thing; it's normal."
"Thanks," I said firmly, "but I have to be present at the company's meeting tomorrow morning. By the way, Larry," I added, changing the subject, "what does the company offer me in terms of salary, bonuses, a car, and the like?"
"Don't worry, you'll get a very good salary, uncapped bonuses, car, insurance, a 401(k), two weeks' vacation plus holidays," Larry assured me. "Trust me; you will be happy. One more Crown Royal," he told the waitress, "and bring us a dessert list, please."
"What's the next step in this process?" I asked.
"Tomorrow I'll meet with my boss, and I'm sure he will agree with me, and you will have an interview with him in a week or two."
"If everything goes well, when should I start?"
"Right away, we need someone to cover the territory. It's been vacant for quite some time," he explained. "Are you sure you don't want to go for a swim?"
"Yes, I'm positive. It's getting late, and I'll have to drive an hour to get home. Here's my business card," I said as I handed him the card. "May I have yours, please?"
"Absolutely." He handed me his business card. "I'll call you tomorrow to arrange a day for you for the next interview with my boss."
The waitress brought us a list of desserts, and after a minute, we decided. "I'd like to have a mango sorbet, please," I said.
"I want a strawberry parfait, please."
When the waitress left, he asked me, "Do you live by yourself or do you have a boyfriend?"
"I live with my child and my mom; she is an incredible help."
The waitress arrived with our desserts. We'd taken a bite or two when he asked me, "Would you like to try mine? It's delicious." And he tried to give me his dessert on his own teaspoon! "Please, Sophia," he insisted, "just a bite; it is incredibly delicious."
"Oh no," I said. "I have mine. I can't have yours. Thank you anyway."
Unbelievable! I thought. The man was absolutely contemptible! Here I was for a job interview with a huge drug company, and I found the interviewer absolutely ridiculous and unprofessional—an ingrate of a person.
I couldn't stay any longer, and I started to get impatient. "Larry, thank you so much for your time and for dinner," I said.
"Oh, thank you." Larry grinned. "I am very excited to work with you in the field."
Then he followed me to my car in the hotel's lower-level garage. We shook hands, and he kissed me on my face. I was completely shocked for the second time. What an interview, I thought. This looks mostly like a date. Unbelievable!
Whatever it was, I was glad it was over. How could I work for this guy, who had spoon-fed desert to me and kissed me on my face during the job interview? And he'd been even more forward, asking me to swim and "have fun." The most disgusting part of the evening had been when he'd tried to feed me with his own teaspoon! My head was spinning in many directions. The interview seemed like a bad dream. But the job was appealing to me. How could I work with him, though? I couldn't, I decided. He made me very uncomfortable. What am I doing now? I asked myself. I can't believe this. Ridiculous! I can't work for the company, just because of him.
Excerpted from THE CORPORATE'S DOGS by ERICA BERNSTEIN Copyright © 2012 by Erica Bernstein, MD.. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I believe drug companies are the biggest problem in our health care system. That still wasn't enough to get me through this poorly written collection of simple sentences, bad spelling and ridiculous names. Sophia Celeste ("heavenly wisdom-really?) is too dumb to see trouble coming when her first interview takes place in a bar where her future boss is trying to feed her oysters. It just gets worse from there. The author's point gets lost in bad story telling. The author is an M.D., proving the point that there are Science people and English people. I hope she's better at science.