India, August 2016 – Driven to Suicide by an ‘Inhuman and Unnatural’ Pressure to Sell

In July 2016, a 27-year-old salesman for Abbott Laboratories in India committed suicide. A note in his pocket said, “I’m going to commit suicide because I can’t meet my company’s sales targets and my company is pressuring me.”

A six-month investigation by the New York Times found that some Abbott managers instructed employees to pursue sales at any cost, in violation of Indian law, professional medical standards and the company’s own ethics guidelines. One practice identified were health camps in which representatives would perform tests on patients in an effort to create business for doctors, who would then prescribe Abbott drugs.

Abbott’s India public affairs director, Anand Kadkol, said the company’s marketing policies “are aligned with applicable laws” in India. He called the health camps “disease awareness education programs” and said that Abbott’s policies did not allow the camps to be conducted “in exchange for an explicit or implicit understanding” to prescribe Abbott products.