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Company: Henry Schein, Inc.
Subject: Mercury Dental Amalgams & Corporate Standards
Year: 2010
Sector: Health Care Products
Lead Filer: Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, U.S. Province
Outcome: Withdrawn

Henry Schein, Inc.

 Worldwide Business Standards  -2010

  

WHEREAS:

 Standards of ethical conduct set forth in Henry Schein Worldwide Business Standards are "one of the keys to why we excel in our business" according to CEO Stanley Bergman. 

"Ethical business practices extend to all levels and positions within our Company" and the Worldwide Business Standards are intended to "set forth the fundamental responsibilities of all those who represent Henry Schein's good name."

Margaret Hamburg was a Henry Schein Board member from 2003 until she was confirmed as Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on May 18, 2009.   This confirmation occurred during the FDA's decision-making process on whether to classify dental amalgam as a class II device with special controls, a product related to Henry Schein's business.  The FDA comment period on mercury amalgams ran from April 28, 2008 to July 28, 2008 with a final decision July 28, 2009.   We are concerned that as a Henry Schein Board member from 2003 until confirmation, Ms. Hamburg may have found herself in an ethical dilemma and conflict of interest as a former board member when she was involved in FDA decision making about products related to that company.

Shortly after the FDA decision on dental amalgam, Henry Schein's general counsel Michael Ettinger sent FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg an email on July 30, 2009, thanking her for a service she performed while at FDA and acknowledging Schein is "indebted" to her for this service, which raises questions of conflict of interest. 

On July 28, 2009, FDA announced a rule on dental amalgam that permitted Henry Schein to sell the product without disclosing its 50% mercury content to consumers.  Nor is Schein required to inform parents and pregnant women of amalgam's risk of neurological harm to children and the unborn, even though FDA acknowledges this risk.  The rule was published on August 4, 2009. 

Concerns have arisen that actions of general counsel Ettinger and CEO Bergman could be perceived as Henry Schein having received an improper favor from the FDA Commissioner, an apparent conflict that might lead to company indebtedness to a government official who regulates its products.  In the Huffington Post article "The Mercury Mischief: As Obama Warns of Hazards, the FDA Approves Mercury Dental Fillings," 8/28/09, author Ellen Brown suggests the FDA Commissioner's ties to top amalgam seller Henry Schein resulted in a rule favoring industry even though it is contrary to the President's goals.  In a Charleston Gazette op-ed entitled "FDA, mercury not affected by Obama's ‘change,'" 11/22/09, Charles G. Brown, Consumers for Dental Choice, noted the FDA Commissioner appears to have skirted her ethical obligation to recuse herself from the amalgam issue to ensure Henry Schein would receive an industry-friendly rule.   

 RESOLVED: 

 The shareholders request the Board of Directors to review our Company's Worldwide Standards to determine whether there is compliance at all levels and positions within the Company, and to report the results, produced at reasonable cost and excluding proprietary information, to shareholders within six months of the annual meeting. 

 

 


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