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[Reporter’s Notebook] ‘Wanna know what’s going on with MSD Korea?’
  • By Jeong Sae-im
  • Published 2019.05.21 11:44
  • Updated 2019.05.21 11:44
  • comments 0

“Is there any trouble between Korea Biomedical Review and MSD Korea?”

People continued to ask this question after I wrote more than 10 articles about MSD Korea on Korea Biomedical Review, including its excessive monitoring of doctors, a dodge scheme to reduce daycare costs, and a foreign executive’s abuse of power against subordinates.

In conclusion, I never thought I would be able to contact so many whistleblowers at the drug maker. Incidents happened, not between this paper and MSD Korea but between the MSD management and employees.

The story on MSD Korea’s monitoring program via an external agency, published on March 22, generated serious repercussions inside the company.

Complaints from MSD workers exploded over the company’s recording of detailed and personal remarks by physicians or restaurant staffs after a product briefing, and the punishment according to the rules of the “Self-Assurance” program. MSD employees said the article was legitimate and their empathy led to one whistleblowing to another.

MSD Korea surveyed employees as if it would resolve the issues, but the final measure was to record doctors’ conversations “more discreetly.”

As doctors became more enraged over MSD Korea’s monitoring, the company said to me it was “discussing measures for improvement and would release a follow-up plan soon.” However, over a month has passed, and I have never seen a change.

I only heard that the company was eagerly explaining about the monitoring program to doctors who complained about their discomfort.

Foreign executives’ verbal attacks against employees and alleged sexual molestation occurred early last year. Even though MSD Korea’s personnel team received the reports immediately, the company has not taken any disciplinary measure, but belatedly began to investigate what happened recently.

I doubt that MSD Korea will ever conduct a fact-finding investigation on the foreign executive’s power abuse and sexual harassment, or do something about it. In the past year, when the personnel team sat on the issue idly, one of the victims left the company.

It is understandable that MSD Korea employees formed a labor union last year and hundreds of workers joined the union just in a month.

The trade union said, however, that the management’s attitude has hardly changed despite the birth of the union.

“On the outside, the company seems to recognize the legitimacy of the labor union, but the management does not come to the table to sit down and talk seriously with the union,” a member of the labor union said. “Some of the agreements the two have reached were not aimed to enhance the welfare of the employees but to prepare for legal disputes later.”

Workers at MSD Korea that I met called their company “a good firm only on the outside.” The company embellishes itself with fancy words but the inside is empty, they said.

MSD Korea’s management should come to realize that their pretending to solve problems is making their employees turn their back. MSD Korea’s workers do not buy the company’s glossy words anymore. They want a change in the substance, not a show.


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