PETER ROST: PHARMA MARKETING EXPERT WITNESS. AWP, MEDICAL DEVICE EXPERT.: AstraZeneca Responds to Whistleblower Allegations
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PETER ROST: PHARMA MARKETING EXPERT WITNESS. AWP, MEDICAL DEVICE EXPERT.

Peter Rost, M.D., is a former Pfizer Marketing Vice President providing services as a medical device and drug expert witness and pharmaceutical marketing expert. Judge Sanders: "The court agrees with defendants' view that Dr. Rost is a very adept and seasoned expert witness." He is also the author of Emergency Surgery, The Whistleblower and Killer Drug. You can reach him on rostpeter (insert symbol) hotmail.com. Please read the terms of use agreement and privacy policy for this blog carefully.

AstraZeneca Responds to Whistleblower Allegations

Here are some key highlights from the AstraZeneca press release below, which goes quite far, indicating that some of the claims raised have already been investigated and corrective action taken, others are now being actively investigated. AstraZeneca's response is good. Of course, we don't know what would have happened if the AstraZeneca "Group of Seven" Whistleblowers hadn't gone public, however, this response indicates there's at least one drug company PR department which knows what they're doing. They're addressing the key issues and promising action. Hopefully, reality will back up the words:

"The company acted immediately to dismiss the person responsible because his comments and the direction he gave to his team violated the core purpose of the company."

"Ensuring that we focus on improving patient health, and ensuring that we are successful in maintaining our business are not mutually exclusive."

"We are looking into this incident to fully understand what happened with the goal of understanding all of the details, strengthening our processes, and helping our employees do their jobs in a way that is effective and in keeping with AstraZeneca’s core beliefs."

"Recently, there have been blog postings questioning sales practices and compliance issues. The company takes claims of misconduct very seriously and investigates these in a timely and effective manner. Investigations concerning the specific claims referenced were initiated. Some claims reported prior to this incident were investigated and concluded with appropriate corrective action being taken. More recent claims are actively being investigated."


Contact: Emily Denney
302-885-3451

ASTRAZENECA AND ITS EMPLOYEES COMMITTED TO HIGHEST STANDARDS OF ETHICS AND INTEGRITY

April 13, 2007—Wilmington, Delaware—AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) is presently the focus of news stories that began when senior management became aware of the contents of an unauthorized newsletter. The company acted immediately to dismiss the person responsible because his comments and the direction he gave to his team violated the core purpose of the company.

First and foremost, AstraZeneca is committed to patient health--it’s what the company is founded on, and it’s what drives the people who work here. The work we do to develop and deliver medicines to the marketplace is all in service of the patient. Ensuring that we focus on improving patient health, and ensuring that we are successful in maintaining our business are not mutually exclusive.

We are looking into this incident to fully understand what happened with the goal of understanding all of the details, strengthening our processes, and helping our employees do their jobs in a way that is effective and in keeping with AstraZeneca’s core beliefs.

Recently, there have been blog postings questioning sales practices and compliance issues. The company takes claims of misconduct very seriously and investigates these in a timely and effective manner. Investigations concerning the specific claims referenced were initiated. Some claims reported prior to this incident were investigated and concluded with appropriate corrective action being taken. More recent claims are actively being investigated.

AstraZeneca investigates all claims when we learn about them, whether through our hotline or through other means, as long as enough detailed information around the claim exists. We are particularly determined to address claims of retaliation—these claims are considered a priority in our investigative process. In fact, our U.S. Code of Conduct makes it clear to all employees that “raising a legitimate issue – in good faith – of a possible violation by others will not adversely impact [the employee]. Any act or threat of retaliation by an employee against another in response to the disclosure of a potential policy violation will be considered a serious violation of the Code.”

In each instance, AstraZeneca acted in a manner consistent with its compliance program requirements and its obligations under the Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA). Responding to complaints is a fundamental element of our compliance program, and is consistent with the ethical values that underpin our business.

We have a robust compliance program that calls for responsible sales and marketing practices that comply with applicable laws, regulations and industry standards such the PhRMA Code and the American Medical Association guidelines, as well as AstraZeneca’s internal policies. For example, AstraZeneca has policies and procedures in place that provide direction to its employees about the appropriate promotion of our products. Pursuant to our CIA, our sales representatives are required to complete extensive sales and marketing compliance training annually. In addition, they are updated regularly by both their management and by the local compliance staff we have allocated to each regional business center, who are tasked with helping them follow current, new, and updated policies that are put into place.

The AstraZeneca Compliance Program and the company’s toll-free hotline have been in place since AstraZeneca’s inception (8 years ago). As part of our effort to create a robust internal dialogue concerning compliance and ethics, employees are afforded various ways to discuss compliance questions and report alleged misconduct, including discussing these issues with their managers, the Legal Department, the Compliance staff, Human Resources, or anonymously, if they choose, through the Code of Conduct Helpline.

AstraZeneca employees work hard each and every day to live up to our company values and standards. We are proud of them and our work. An unfortunate consequence of this situation is that it jeopardizes the company’s reputation, the reputation of our sales force, and the trust employees have built with patients, physicians and allies. As we move forward as a business, we will continue to stand by our values, act accordingly and support the good work of our employees.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous JS said...

Oops sorry oh okay I am done being sick. Does anyone who has been through this process believe this crap. They probably spent 3 days and 100k trying to draft a letter wher first and foremost do no applogize for anything substantial, talk about your good will toward men, and above tell us about your policy. I am slightly disappointed I thought since they were only addressing the bloggers...they might have been more creative. Alas after ten years of listening to this dribble I have grown cynical and as Lilly Tomlin says, "I need to become more cynicial just to keep up"

4/13/2007  
Anonymous heknows said...

How nice! This is what it is, good PR with the standard response. I can show you the response to whistle blowing in another big pharma, bigger than A/Z and the wording is practically the same. "We are investigating and looking into allegations and the corrective action has already taken place and will take place where these are found, yada, yada ,yada..."
What they are doing in rality, looking for those who produced evidence and documenataion that the miscoduct took place. That is never supposed to happen. No evidence should be visable or available to prove that it took place. In this other co. after the whistleblowing and the usual yada, yada, yada, no protogonist of misconduct was affected in any way, in spite of evidence that they did it on purpose and deliberately. The whole thing was covered up, the correction were done in the way the misconduct will be done in the future (no evidence, please) and those involved stay in the Co. some got even promoted. The whistleblower got the boot.
Note of interest: once upon the time in Canada, Astra company before the merger was the most ethical company on the market. it was laegendary they would do nothig unethical even if they lost business. They were ridiculed by others including that other one. What happened? Is Zeneca to blame or they both joined the rest?
A/Z PR make a comment, not a scripted one, please.

4/13/2007  
Blogger insider said...

Thanks for this Peter.

Perhaps this might provide some contextual insight.

Pip pip!

http://pharmagossip.blogspot.com/2007/04/astrazeneca-those-who-forget-history.html#links

4/13/2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do the pharmaceutical companies know what is causing the autism epidemic, etc.? Are they spinning misinformation to the public through their autism advocacy groups who raise millions for the industry and collect genes for the profits of the pharmas and researchers who will do nothing to prevent or "cure" autism?

4/13/2007  

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