"Pfizer Not Happy With Former Executive’s Book"
From Health Law 360, a legal newsletter for law firms:
Pfizer Not Happy With Former Executive’s Book
Portfolio Media, New York (September 19, 2006)--Pfizer Inc. is looking to take legal action against a former employee who recently published a book critical of the health care industry, according to a court transcript.
The book’s author, Dr. Peter Rost, said Tuesday on his Web site that a Pfizer lawyer had alerted the U.S. District Court in Manhattan that it was planning a motion against him.
“We would like to make a motion, in view of the two years of blogging referring to witnesses in this case, confidential information that may be exhibits in the case, the parties in the case, and the attorneys by name in the case…for appropriate sanctions,” the lawyer said.
Pfizer is also evaluating how the book, The Whistleblower – Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman (Soft Skull Press), violates a protective order, and is requesting that more than 2,000 documents used to make the book be marked Confidential, Rost said.
“Pfizer’s attempt to stop ‘The Whistleblower’ and deny the public the right to view associated documents may not be surprising considering the explosive content and Pfizer’s infamous history as the only drug company forced by the government to sign not just one, but two separate corporate integrity agreements,” Rost said.
“I’m pretty much dumbfounded, because this is the stupidest thing Pfizer can do,” he added. “It’s just creating more attention for the book.”
The case between Pfizer and Rost goes back to 2003, when Rost sued Pfizer in the U.S. District Court in Boston. In that case, Rost, who sought damages on behalf of the government, alleged that the drug company and newly acquired Pharmacia Corp. promoted unapproved uses for growth hormone Genotropin and gained millions of dollars in sales as a result.
Judge Joseph Tauro dismissed the case this month, however, saying Rost had no evidence that Pfizer won government reimbursement for illegal off-label Genotropin.
Rost, a former vice president of marketing at Pfizer until his dismissal last November, has said he will either file an amended complaint or appeal the decision.
“We view this as a technicality,” he said. “We simply have to produce one single case of a false claim.”
In a similar but separate suit filed in Manhattan district court right after he was fired, Rost alleged that he was unfairly terminated for his whistleblowing activities. That case is currently pending.
Pfizer, for its part, has called the claims baseless, and it pointed out that the Securities and Exchange Commission has taken no action in the matter. The drug company also accused Rost of aggrandizing himself at the expense of his former company and of tainting the jury pool.
The book, published on Sept. 10, details the alleged Genotropin scandal, FBI investigations, multi-million dollar payouts, company phone surveillance, spying on employees and illicit sexual adventures by executives.
“The Whistleblower is at once an unmasking of how corporations take care of malcontents and a gripping story of one man’s fight to maintain his family and his sanity,” Soft Skull Press writes on its Web site.
It is already planning a second printing.
Rost is represented in the case by Green & Savits LLC.
Pfizer is represented by Epstein, Becker & Green P.C.
The case is Rost v. Pfizer Inc. et al, case number 05-10384, in the U.S.
District Court for the Southern District of New York.