[Ip-health] New York Times: William Haddad, Crusader for Generic Drugs, Dies at 91

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Wed May 6 06:56:17 PDT 2020


William Haddad, Crusader for Generic Drugs, Dies at 91

As head of an industry group, he fought Big Pharma to make treatments for
AIDS and other diseases more affordable. And that was just one hat he wore.

By Sam Roberts

May 5, 2020

William Haddad, a civic evangelist who helped streamline the sale of
cheaper generic drugs to American consumers and pare the price of AIDS
treatment globally to a dollar a day, died on April 30 at his home in
Poughquag, N.Y., in the Hudson Valley. He was 91.

His daughter Lulie Haddad said the cause was congestive heart failure.

Armed with evidence he had amassed as director of the New York State
Assembly’s Office of Oversight and Analysis, Mr. Haddad persuaded the
Legislature and Gov. Hugh L. Carey in 1974 to let doctors prescribe
equivalent generic drugs in place of higher-priced brand names.

Taking his campaign nationwide as chairman of what was then called the
Generic Pharmaceutical Association, an industry group, and his own drug
company, Mr. Haddad was instrumental in shepherding landmark legislation in
1984 that removed longstanding legal and regulatory hurdles to the
manufacture and sale of generic drugs.

The law, sponsored by Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, and
Representative Henry Waxman, Democrat of California, restored patent
protection to encourage pharmaceutical companies to invest in research and
development of new products while making it easier for makers of generic
drugs to get them approved by federal regulators who had already licensed
their brand-name equivalents.

In 2001, Mr. Haddad worked with Cipla, a drug company in India, to make way
for the use of generic AIDS medicines and to reduce the price of lifesaving
drug cocktails to $350 a year per patient, from as much as $15,000.

“As a volunteer he worked with Cipla to remove the barriers to the use of
generic AIDS medicines,” Dr. Yusuf K. Hamied, chairman of Cipla, wrote in
an email. “Between him, myself and Cipla, we jointly pioneered H.I.V./AIDS
relief in Africa in the year 2001, which I genuinely believe saved million
of lives over the years.”

Mr. Haddad never fulfilled his early ambition to become a nuclear
physicist, lost his only campaign for elective office when he failed to
unseat Representative Leonard Farbstein on Manhattan’s West Side, and
admitted to being bamboozled by the charisma of John DeLorean, the Pontiac
GTO designer whose own car company went bankrupt.

But Mr. Haddad left an imprint in almost every other phase of his
peripatetic career. As a reporter, he and his colleagues were among the
first critics to dent the armor of New York’s omnipotent power broker,
Robert Moses.

Fresh from working on John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign, he
helped launch the Peace Corps with its first director, R. Sargent Shriver.
He helped elect Mario M. Cuomo governor of New York in 1982 with the title
of campaign manager, reporting to Mr. Cuomo’s son Andrew, now the state’s

Mr. Haddad conducted opposition research for Robert F. Kennedy when he
challenged the liberal bona fides of Kenneth L. Keating, his Republican
rival in the 1964 race for United States Senate in New York, and for John
V. Lindsay, who was running for mayor against Abraham D. Beame the
following year.

William Frederick Haddad was born on July 25, 1928, in Charlotte, N.C., to
Esther (Nowack) Haddad, a Jewish immigrant from Russia, and Charles Haddad,
an Egyptian Jew.

When his parents divorced during the Depression, Bill moved to Miami with
his father, who ran an Arabic restaurant. In 1943, when he was 15, he faked
his way into the Merchant Marine and served as a radio operator on an
ammunition ship in the Pacific.

Mr. Haddad graduated from St. Petersburg Junior College in Florida,
received a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University in 1954, and went to
work for Senator Estes Kefauver, Democrat of Tennessee, whom he had
encountered while working on campaigns for the Seafarers International

In the 1960s, he served as associate director and inspector general of the
Peace Corps and inspector general of the federal Office of Economic
Opportunity, which oversaw the nation’s anti-poverty programs.

As a reporter for The New York Post (where he won a Polk Award in 1958 and
shared another one in 1959 for exposing the city’s neglect of slums) and
later The Herald Tribune (which was owned by his father-in-law, John Hay
Whitney), Mr. Haddad uncovered a worldwide cartel that inflated the price
of the antibiotic tetracycline. As a legislative watchdog in Albany, he
revealed that major banks had sold off their holdings of municipal
securities before their refusal to lend New York more money drove the city
to the brink of bankruptcy in the mid-1970s.

His two marriages, to Kate Roosevelt — a granddaughter of President
Franklin D. Roosevelt and the adopted daughter of Mr. Whitney — and to
Noreen Walsh, ended in divorce.

In addition to Lulie Haddad, he is survived by two other daughters from his
first marriage, Laura Whitney-Thomas and Andrea Haddad; two children from
his second marriage, Amanda Reina and Robert Haddad; a stepson, Steve
Walsh; 13 grandchildren; and two great-grandsons.

Mr. Haddad’s fans and foes characterized him as indefatigable, ambitious
and stubbornly bare-faced, and said that in his earnestness he sometimes
bit off more than he could chew.

His inability to say no, Nora Ephron wrote in New York Magazine in 1968,
meant that at one point he “had to find a ghostwriter to ghostwrite a book
which he’d promised to ghostwrite himself.” (Among the books he wrote
himself was “Hard Driving: My Years With John Delorean” in 1985).

When he ran for Congress in 1964, he once recalled, “I ran with an Arab
name in a Jewish district. My opponents had a picture of me superimposed on
a camel, and I didn’t handle it well. I said if I had to be Jewish to win,
it wasn’t worth winning.” He lost.

As a newly minted member of the city’s Board of Education in 1968, Mr.
Haddad, in a candid comment on the quality of the school system, declared
in a television interview: “I wouldn’t put my kids in the public school
system. I’d hock my suit, my car and my shoes to get them into a decent
school.” (In reality he would not have had to hock anything; he understated
his finances running a company that monitored poverty programs.)

“I’m a provocateur,” he said. “I learned that from Estes Kefauver. I used
to ask him, ‘Why do you get into all these battles?’ and he would say,
‘Never let one go by.’ I wish I could. I wish I could learn to keep my
mouth shut. But I can’t.”

Mr. Haddad played so many roles that to some he was a Zelig-like enigma.

Along the way, he started The Manhattan Tribune, a weekly newspaper, in
1968 and recruited Roy Innis, the chairman of the Congress of Racial
Equality, as a co-publisher — to provide a biracial perspective. In the New
York magazine profile, Mr. Innis described their relationship as “symbiotic
pragmatic.” Then he paused.

“What did you say this article was going to be about?” Mr. Innis asked the

“Haddad, who he is, what he wants.”

“Well,” Mr. Innis replied, “when you find out, let me know.”

Sam Roberts, an obituaries reporter, was previously The Times’s urban
affairs correspondent and is the host of “The New York Times Close Up,” a
weekly news and interview program on CUNY-TV. @samrob12

Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International
41 22 791 6727
thiru at keionline.org

More information about the Ip-health mailing list