Monday, January 12, 2009


By Charles R. Earl, CEO Communication Connections

Any industry that contends with government oversight and regulation should be aware of the nature of a democratically structured system. Problems and issues are rarely addressed when first perceived or detected, but when those issues become significant enough for media and public notice, then government “solutions” are often undertaken in a hasty and “knee-jerk” manner. The result is often a myriad of restrictive and seemingly counterproductive rules and regulations. For example, how many of you would routinely use the very top of your stepladder for simple chores yet OSHA requires that ladder manufacturers and distributors inform you (via a strategically placed sticker whose location and wording are tightly regulated) that it is dangerous for you to use the upper platform of your ladder as a standing platform. Thus, because of stickering and compliance issues, stepladders are inherently more expensive than they need to be.

A co-conspirator with over regulation is the threat of litigation. Resourceful trial lawyers have brazenly attempted to hold manufacturers, distributors and retailers responsible for every use and mis-use of their products. Legal and judicial developments have generally supported the business community if due diligence and proper precautionary practices were followed, although the occasional “rogue” jury has defied reasonableness. The judicial system, along with governmental bodies, have been struggling with how to define “due diligence.” When has a manufacturer, distributor or retailer “done enough” to provide a reasonable expection of safety for the end consumer/patient?

Retailers, distributors and manufacturers have an ethical and legal responsibility to assure that their products are what they say they are, and will do what they claim. One can remember how the Tylenol scare revolutionized OTC packaging. Now, counterfeiting and alterations have surfaced to create a hazard to the integrity of the chain of custody model. Due diligence seems to require that product be examined at every stop along the chain.

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