First "Whistleblower" review on Amazon UK . . .
Dr. Rost's story is a personal one, told in a very readable and understandable, yet fast-paced manner. It tells how Pfizer, the world's largest pharmaceutical (and supposedly ethical) company reacted when he started to question dubious and illegal "off-label" sales practices, sexual shenanigans and finally, Pfizer's corporate and US national policies on drug pricing. As a Vice President of Marketing, he was pretty well placed to see the murkier side of his business. In that situation, you can do one of three things: you can shut up and carry on taking the fat salary (and I guess, even post-Enron, that's what usually happens), you can quit, or you can speak out. Dr. Rost chose the last option. Pfizer were not best pleased. I won't spoil the book by telling you what happened, but I can only admire Dr. Rost's ability to resist and triumph in an unbelievable situation that would have left most people shattered or suicidal.
It seems incredible that a major multi-national company (and especially one that presents itself both to its employees and to the outside world as a "caring, sharing" employer that "respects people" and "values diversity") would go to the extremes that Pfizer did (and still do), just to try (and fail) to shut up one lone dissenting voice. Yet Dr. Rost gives exquisite details of all of the expensive lawyers, spooks, intimidation and surveillance techniques that Pfizer ranged against him in an unbelievably spiteful effort to cow him into silence. It's not surprising that Pfizer's products come at a premium price, given the legal overheads they must have.
Such a tale could easily come across as a spot of axe-grinding by a bitter ex-employee. This doesn't. It's a rattlingly good, intelligently-told yarn and a compulsive page-turner. I devoured the whole thing in a couple of hours. Not only does Rost make the US legal stuff understandable, he also provides some laugh-out-loud moments (like his brush with Pfizer's "decruitment consultants" during its hostile take-over of Pharmacia) and some serious general observations as well.
Chapter 19 ("How Corrupt Is The Drug Industry?") is particularly thought-provoking - Dr. Rost suggests that an industry that "leverages its scale" by regarding nine-figure fines for illegal activities as an acceptable cost of business should rightly be labelled a criminal one. How is it possible to disagree?
For anyone in the UK who follows the politics of the global healthcare industry, or indeed for anyone in the UK who works in it, this book is a must-read. Buy it.