In 1978, violent protests erupted in Iran. During that time, tensions were high among the citizens. My parents, who had two young children, had to make the difficult decision to leave everything they knew behind. Their friends, families, jobs. That year, at only nine years old, my family and I immigrated to the United States in hopes of achieving the “American Dream” that is often idolized. From then on, I embraced the idea of the American Dream. Fast forward to 2020, when Americans were facing the COVID-19 pandemic, I knew I had to step up. Since Vivera Pharmaceuticals already had the team to run testing, our team made the mutual decision that we would help ease Americans’ anxieties by providing testing.
Getting America Back to Work and Well
Vivera first gained exposure when my Chief Medical Officer, Dr. McColgan, was featured on Fox News in April of 2020. Dr. McColgan went on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” to discuss a test that Vivera was developing. This test was in line with the company’s goal of getting America back to work and well again. After that exposure, Vivera was getting calls from various companies and organizations in the United States asking for our assistance with testing. Eventually, we were approached by White House officials, such as Dr. Peter Navarro, to help develop, manufacture, and distribute fully American-made COVID-19 tests.
We were working closely with the White House on a “secret mission” of developing and manufacturing an all-made in the US covid test during the pandemic. Not only was this huge for my company, but this was a personal accomplishment for me. I had moved to the United States for the American Dream, and here I was, about to help serve my country. For nearly two months, straight around the clock, my team worked closely with the White House’s team to serve on the calling and produce a completely USA-made test. Vivera accomplished what would typically take 6-12 months in less time than anyone else.
In May 2020, Dr. McColgan and I took an interview with USA Today. We spoke with the interviewer and answered the questions he asked about what our company was accomplishing. The interviewer came off as if he was happy about our service. However, that was not the case. After a short phone interview about what Vivera was doing to help America through the pandemic, USA Today came out with a “Hit-Piece” about my company. The article was a slap in the face after everything we were putting forth to help the country. Not only was the article an attack on Vivera, an American company, but the majority of the article was also an attack on me. The article went into my 25 plus years in the nutrition industry. The article strayed away from what Vivera is doing to help.
I can’t help but wonder what motivated these articles. While USA Today has written an awful piece about my company and about me, they have also written an article about another major pharmaceutical company’s CEO, who happens to be a white male. Although I respect my competitors, regardless of any identifying factors, I can’t help but notice the difference I have been treated being an immigrant from the Middle East. Sadly, discrimination is not something new. As I grew older, I had hoped that the people who showed a difference in liking towards immigrants would be a thing of the past.
Fighting for the truth
Back when I immigrated to the United States, kids from school would bully me for being from Iran. With the hostage situation occurring back home in Iran, other kids from school would threaten to beat me up, want to fight me, and accuse my family of being part of it. This happened daily. I was never a physical fighter, but I quickly learned how to defend myself. I took that anger from being bullied and grew a strong mindset and mentality that eventually turned me into the CEO I am today. Yet, here we are again, where the biggest publishing company in the country is bullying. They are trying to intimidate my company and bring us down, but I will not allow that. USA Today’s article was written with what I feel was reckless and malicious intent. What USA Today doesn’t know is that I am a fighter. I will not give up on this fight for the truth to come out.
My attorneys and I attempted to talk to USA Today’s leadership team to retract the statements made in their article, but they refused. I had no other choice but to sue. Vivera suffered tremendously from the lies and false narrative USA Today painted us with.
I believe in our amazing country’s judicial system. We will soon find out who and what motivated this careless and falsified article to be written. While Vivera is still recovering from the damage caused by this article, we continue to put Americans first and help during the pandemic. I have trained myself not to quit; that is the athlete and Leo in me.