DTC Perspectives: "What can they do to stop Peter Rost?"
Bloggers Get Mainstream Press
"With bloggers watching most negative activities will become public."
My column on May 4 discussed the increasing power of pharma bloggers. Fortune Magazine, in its June 11 issue, profiles one of the most recognized bloggers, Dr. Peter Rost. The drug industry is well aware of Dr. Rost, a former Pfizer executive, who became well-known for publicly supporting drug re-importation while his company opposed it.
Today Peter Rost spends much of his blogger time looking for evidence of pharma wrong doing. His blog has become the place where whistleblowers release evidence of price fixing, off label promotion and physician unethical relationships with drug companies.
This blog and others are a real problem for drug companies. It is clear, that among the many thousands of drug reps and other insiders, there are many willing to report questionable behavior. Actual internal memos are released which makes it hard to deny the behaviors criticized. Drug companies are going to have to recognize that any internal email, memo, phone conversation, or secretly recorded meeting is likely to be public knowledge courtesy of bloggers.
The drug industry now resembles the celebrity world, where the public loves to get the inside story. Our drug industry bloggers are working hard to out scoop each other. We can expect the stories reported to be increasingly sensational in an effort to get readers. Most bloggers do not make money off their sites, but many love the press. Dr. Rost clearly enjoys being in the limelight and loves to tweak his former employer, who he says treated him badly.
I think these bloggers have enormous power. They are outside the influence of the powerful pharma companies. Drug companies can pull ad dollars from mainstream media if their news departments run unfair stories. What can they do to stop Peter Rost?
Big pharma is not helping themselves by constantly getting caught doing illegal and unethical activities. The best way to stop damaging blogs is to be ethical in all things. That unfortunately is as likely as Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton becoming C-Span viewers. Pharma companies, I believe, are not trying to do the wrong thing but when those quarterly sales targets are looming, they just cannot help but do aggressive and often questionable things. With bloggers watching, most negative activities will become public. After all, there are bound to be some angry detail reps or other insiders who want to take some revenge on their company.
I now review blogger sites such as Pharmalot, Pharmagossip, and Rost daily. Only a few months ago I was not even aware they existed. I am sure they, along with video sites such as You Tube, will increasingly influence consumers in forming their opinions on drug companies.
Bob Ehrlich, Chairman
DTC Perspectives, Inc.