… (details here) retires from his drug distribution days to the life of a highly respectable billionaire, ordinary dumbshit drug distributors in the state he helped destroy – West Virginia – go to jail. Let’s put the big drug capo next to the little drug capolinis, okay?
In a species of hypocrisy too grotesque even to laugh at, Hammergren, for years the CEO behind McKesson’s opioid carpet bombing of the US, currently heads up a task force on women’s health at the Center for Strategic and International Stupefacients (of which he is also a trustee; enjoy his written-by-someone-stoned-out-of-her-mind biography here). He ran one of America’s dirtiest businesses, and his personal greed is a national disgrace, but CSIS just loves them some Hammergren money and they don’t give a shit about those dead people cuz they wanna help people, see? You follow?
“No other corporation distributed more opioids in those years than Hammergren’s McKesson … Over his first 16 years as CEO, notes Bloomberg, Hammergren pocketed $781 million. His final months in the McKesson chief executive suite brought that total near $800 million. Upon his retirement, he walked away with a pension package worth $138.6 million.” When the rewards for addicting much of the nation get this high, you do not go to jail, mes petites; you make high-level decisions about women’s health.
So here’s John with probably more personal real estate than even Jeffrey Epstein, telling those American women who happened to survive his carpet bombing how to stay in tiptop shape … and here’s a couple of West Virginians – Samuel R. Ballengee and Devonna Miller-West – who saw the amazing business potential of opioids just as clearly as Hammergren but lacked his resources and connections. What happened to them?
They’ve landed where Hammergren never will – on a federal indictment for drug distribution. They’re both the sort of jerks who will end up going to jail rather than advising UD on how to keep her cholesterol low through the liberal application of OxyContin. Ballengee, once a pharmacist, and indeed a McKesson distributor until CBS aired a report about his pharmacy and McKesson went and got cold feet, got so pissed at CBS for ruining his business that he sued them for fifteen million dollars! That must seem like a lot to Ballengee, though Hammergren makes that much every time he takes a dump.
Anyway, a judge totally dismissed the lawsuit totally immediately (“These broadcasts were not only tolerable—they were applaudable... The people of West Virginia, indeed those all over the country, deserve to know about the evolution of the opioid epidemic and the identities of the bad actors.”), and now Ballengee’s unemployed, owes lawyers money, is the object of a bunch of civil suits from I guess survivors of overdosed customers, and has been named in a federal indictment. Loser.
Miller-West is similarly pitiable. She shares Hammergren’s tireless drug-entrepreneurship energy – she owned (still owns?) not only a pharmacy, but also Alternative Healing and Coalfield Cannabis (admiring local news article here) – but she too finds herself on the federal indictment.
… (read all of these posts to refresh your memory) and he’s just beginning to claim his share of the attention he deserves from the larger world. But we need to be patient; he remains — despite having been rewarded with seven hundred million dollars in personal compensation over ten years for addicting much of the state of West Virginia — parenthetic.
For most businesses, $150 million [in fines] would be a lot of money. At McKesson, it was less than the $159 million retirement package the company granted its longtime chief executive, John H. Hammergren, in 2013. (After a public backlash — a Forbes headline asked if it was “The World’s Most Outrageous Pension Deal?” — the company later reduced the package to $114 million.)
PARENTHESIS $114 million? And why not mention that this, er, specimen sits on the board of the Center for Strategic and International Stupefacients, bringing his knowledge of drug distribution to global thinking at the highest levels? There’s a lot to say about John Hammergren. But people seem willing to wait until he gets arrested (think it can’t happen?) to say it. Here on University Diaries, we’re saying it now.
The FDA has stood back and watched proudly as its buddy John Hammergren [scroll down], head of drug distributor McKesson, pockets seven hundred million dollars for ten years of work — but he earned every penny of it, having engineered the distribution, for instance, of five million opioids to Kermit, WV, population four hundred.
Hammergren’s the sort of pusher-billionaire the FDA’s in the business of ignoring… ignoring? Nay, encouraging, as he finds and exploits bottomless wells of addiction in this nation’s hollers and thereby does his part to make America the economic miracle that it is. He’s honored everywhere: Arizona State University named him Executive of the Year; he sits on the board of the prestigious Center for Strategic and International Stupefacients… Because we want people like Hammergren setting policy for us, and for the world, China and India having much larger populations than Kermit, and awaiting McKesson’s ministrations…
Well, it’s all been a win-win arrangement, but now the butcher’s bill is really coming due on the whole opioid thing – ie it’s not just no-‘count West Virginians dying anymore, and even the FDA has today felt compelled to murmur a little demur or two…
The FDA’s his best friend. Wanna know who his lover is? The DEA.
… boasts on its board one of America’s most notorious opioid distributors: John Hammergren. As CEO of McKesson, he has flooded West Virginia and similar defenseless states with so many opioids that over the last ten years, while helping to destroy the lives of thousands of Americans, he has brought home seven hundred million dollars in personal compensation.
As Alfred North Whitehead reminds us, “No one who achieves success does so without the help of others.” Thanks, citizens of Kermit!
It must give the scholars at CSIS a warm feeling to ponder this major source of their funding (Hammergren is also a big-time donor). UD thinks the CSIS leadership should visit Kermit and give every one of its corpses a big fat kiss.
To make it all even prettier, Hammergren chairs a CSIS task force on family health!
While you’re enjoying 60 Minutes, and following today’s news about Tom Marino (currently suffering from withdrawal), remember that opioid-loving drug czars may come and go, but people like Hammergren, given respectability by seemingly respectable academic outfits like CSIS, go on forever, destroying entire towns and setting health care policy.
Certain universities – Louisville, USC, Yeshiva, the University of Miami – have the smell of more or less criminal enterprises. They’re always generating high-level, multifaceted, scandal; some of their trustees are crooked or even criminal financiers. Yeshiva had Bernard Madoff as treasurer; Ezra Merkin also sat on their board. Also, I believe, Ira Rennert. The school continues to have as a trustee Zygmunt Wilf. These are not pretty people.
Now, Harvard and MIT were indeed buddies with Jeffrey Epstein; Harvard even celebrates as an emeritus professor Alan Dershowitz, at least an Epstein intimate, and at most (according to one of Epstein’s slaves) a secret sharer in the sex. Its erstwhile president, who helped run a hedge fund while president, hung out with Epstein too. (He also hung out with Andrei Shleifer…) But these schools are not the rackety dives those other schools are. They’re not just in it for the money. Nor are they just in it for the sports: The heavy campus hand of plutocrat college sports fans (the recently departed T. Boone Pickens at Oklahoma State; Phil Knight at Oregon) generates scandals, too – but these are the tired, expected scandals of the jock school.
No, MIT and Harvard are great schools, serious schools, productive schools – they are among the world’s greatest intellectual institutions. They fuck with plutocrats because of their professors’ smokin’ ambition to understand, to invent, to cure. They want money, money, and more money to fund their projects. To be sure, some of this generative creative activity makes some of their professors personally wealthy — the ex-head of MIT’s Media Lab took money from Epstein for his own investments, which adds to the embarrassment of it all… More commonly, professors monetize their medical and technical breakthroughs, producing all kinds of conflict of interest trouble at cutting edge places like Stanford…
We little people, looking in at all of this from the outside, are assured that COIs can be “managed” – the word is always managed – and we shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads. Yessir!
Now look. Most people are pretty greedy; many putrid plutocrats realize that a university affiliation can clean them up real good. It’s a marriage made in heaven. But here’s what UD finds remarkable: MIT’s endowment is close to 17 billion; Harvard’s is close to forty billion. In ten years or so, Harvard’s wealth will be, say, a hundred billion. Harvard is a superplutocrat.
These schools are currently in trouble for promiscuous plutocrat fraternization; but given how INSANELY – not to say unconscionably – rich they are, why is this sort of thing happening at all? Just make an appointment with the “super-secret and dictatorial Harvard Corporation” and explain to them that you’d rather dip into the school’s billions and billions and billions than have to take research money from a guy in jail for sexually enslaving fifteen year olds. The worst they can say is no!
And while we’re at it – Why do superbillionaires like Harvard feel compelled to appoint rich turds like Epstein visiting fellows? We know that legacy parents can pay their kids’ way into Harvard; we know that rich parents can bribe coaches to get their kids into schools like Harvard and Yale. I’m not sure we knew that profit-oriented Harvard faculty can gift generous rich guys official appointments. Not a good look. Not a good look at all. But when Larry Summers spends his presidency running a hedge fund, losing $1.8 billion of Harvard’s endowment on market gambles, and defending a faculty crony who misused, for personal gain, government funds to Harvard, whadaya expect? That crony cost Harvard tens of millions in federal penalties, and it made not one bit of difference in terms of his high-profile position in Harvard’s economics department. That’s the way plutocracies work, kiddies. Plutocracies are even smart enough to know when their workings have become too public, which is why right after Larry Summers, Harvard appointed preachy anti-materialist Drew Faust (‘And while you’re at it, find me a woman, for crap sake!”) to maintain the non-profit theatrics.
Skeptical of the clean-up crew function of women when plutocrat sausage parties get out of hand? Read and learn. As FIFA went, so went Harvard – when things get truly desperate and you can’t hide what you’ve been doing any longer, Find A Woman, Pronto. You can always go right back to men when it all blows over.
As ever, sing it.
[Before and after his conviction in 2008, Epstein was a regular on the masturbatory tech gadfly circuit — an attendee and sponsor of “billionaire dinners” and related sausage-factory soirees at which ultrawealthy men (among them the founders of Amazon and Google), elite scientists and various other male luminaries discussed the future they were collectively trying to build (or, depending on your perspective, squander.)]
The party’s over
It’s time to find us a dame
Until we start up again
I’m going to miss our game
It’s time to wind up
There’s no more Epstein
To keep us paid…