Big Pharma Taps Arizona’s Newest Vaccine Promoter Carmona

Dr. Richard Carmona

In late August, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey tapped Dr. Richard Carmona to serve as the senior advisor on public health emergency preparedness and lead a statewide effort to promote the COVID-19 vaccine. This week, the board of directors of McKesson, reportedly the nation’s largest distributor of wholesale medical supplies and equipment, elected Carmona as an independent director and member of the board’s Compensation and Compliance Committees.

“As an impact-driven organization that touches virtually every aspect of health, Dr. Carmona will be invaluable in furthering our mission to improve care in every setting,” said Edward Mueller, McKesson’s independent board chair in a press release. “We will truly benefit from his hands-on healthcare experience and look forward to welcoming him to our board of directors.”

McKesson was ranked 8th on the Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations, with revenues of $214 billion in 2020.

Just days before Ducey named Carmona, McKesson announced that as of July 31, the company had “successfully distributed over 185 million Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines to administration sites across the country and has now assembled enough kits to support the administration of more than 785 million doses for all vaccine types.”

Carmona has been a lauded and controversial figure among Arizona’s power brokers. McKesson’s board was clearly willing to overlook his controversial past, both as an administrator at Kino Hospital and his failed senatorial run in 2012.

Carmona released a false ad during his senatorial run in which he claimed that both Senators McCain and Kyl supported him in the race. The two Senators then released a statement calling Carmona’s ad “deeply dishonest.” The Arizona Senators said in a statement, “It is shameful for Richard Carmona to try to deceive the voters in this way.”

In 1999, an article in the Arizona Daily Star detailed Carmon’s failure while chief executive of the Pima Health Care System. The article called for Carmona’s resignation, due to his “weak leadership.”

The Star Editorial Board found “Carmona needs to go because Kino Hospital and the whole health system need radical change. Hemorrhaging tax money, paralyzed by conflict, the system has for the four years Carmona led it drifted further and further into crisis. To be sure, many of the system’s troubles predate Carmona….. the Carmona years have been disastrous years characterized by drift and squabbling the CEO never transcended. The ugly numbers of the county budget crisis alone implicate Carmona because they show the health system ran up at least $42 million in budget deficits – including $14 million in the last year – on his watch.”

The Editorial Board noted Carmona’s “irresponsible refusal to cut staff and costs during a fiscal crisis. So, too, did last week’s revelation that the health system last year may have added 200 or more employees in a year when it was already perhaps $30 million in the red and experiencing massive patient declines caused by a state cap on its indigent clients. The bottom line: Carmona’s record as a fiscal manager demands his ouster.”

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