This article in the Boston Globe about the unbelievable generosity of local pharma giant Vertex tugged at my heartstrings and brought a tear to my eye. Vertex, which is building a ginormous new headquarters in Boston’s waterfront “innovation district,” manufactures two of my favorite drugs: Incivek and Kalydeco. I would recommend asking your doctor if both are right for you.
According to the Globe story, Vertex is investing $1.4 million to build a state-of-the-art lab for students in Boston public high schools. The company will also be working with students at two South Boston High Schools to provide supplemental workshops and classes, summer internships at the company, and a four-year college scholarship.
What’s in it for Vertex? Vertex executives said that they’re hoping to help close the achievement gap between urban students and their suburban schools. Now this didn’t surprise me at all because I know that if there’s one thing big pharma is passionate about it’s the achievement gap.
The only thing missing from this feel-good-story is the fact that Vertex has received nearly $100 milliion in tax breaks from the state and the city in the last two years. I mean come on! Governor Patrick gave them $60 million to help them relocate from Cambridge to Boston, then the City of Boston offers $12 million last year, and then the state and city kick in another $22 million just this month to help Vertex build its dual monuments to verticality on Fan Pier.
Now I’m no math genius but even I can tell that the City of Boston and its achievement challenged students are coming out on the short end of this “partnership.” The cost of the lab works out to less than .015% of what we’ve already shoveled into the Vertex piehole.
Oh and don’t forget the lucky kid from Southy who’ll be attending college for free thanks to the generous folks at Vertex. One scholarship??? Seriously??? With the amount of money we’ve given these phools surely they could figure out a way to grow higher achieving students in one of their laboratories.
Just another reminder that for corporations, education really is the ¢ivil right$ i$$ue of our time.