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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) Please read the terms of use agreement and privacy policy for this blog carefully.


Several sources inside Pfizer have informed Question Authority that Pfizer has caught "Jane Roe," the maraviroc whistleblower.

"Once you posted the redacted e-mails it was easy," one source commented. (You can read those e-mails here.)

"Our security people searched millions of e-mails, looking for date and time and certain phrases. We had Jane Roe identified within hours of your article."

"We triangulated her name, and a few days later shut down her e-mail access," another source claims.

According to the second source, last week Jane and some of her colleagues were hauled in front of Pfizer's lawyer from Ropes & Gray, an associate or paralegal from Ropes & Gray, and an in-house Pfizer lawyer and and were interrogated for several hours.

"We left her knowing exactly what we know about her. Now she's is 'marinading.' That's the word we use to break someone. We leave them in limbo until the pressure makes them voluntarily resign, or they have a breakdown."

Apparently, Pfizer had reams and reams of documents and analysis to force Jane Roe to confess that she was the recipient or had written the e-mails that were posted on Question Authority.

Unfortunately for Pfizer, that doesn't prove that Jane is the one who actually forwarded them to me. And there was no other way for Pfizer to find out other than to ask Jane:

After showing all the proof they had, Joshua Levy from Ropes & Gray allegedly confronted Jane asking, "who's been sending material to Rost's site?"

Jane responded, "well it could be anyone, there are many disgruntled employees"

Levy allegedly then said "who? who?"

Jane responded, "maybe it is a composite of people."

Levy said "you still haven't answered me" and Jane responded, "I really can't say for sure. If you have any other questions send them to me."

Levy had one stack with postings from Question Authority, and how those posts corresponded to Jane's emails, a second stack of documents with various unapproved slide presentations, pdf-documents, and clinical studies on maraviroc and Viracept, and a meeting list with times and dates and names of physicians who had been approached.

My source claims they even brought testimony from other reps from around the country, and also from Dennis Pontani, Medical Affairs, Art Rodriquez, Sales Director, and Kelly Fitzgeralds, formerly Assistant Sales director and now District Manager for Boston.

The key objective in this situation (based on my personal experience with Pfizer), is for Pfizer lawyers to try to shoot as many holes as possible in the whistleblower story, and to build a defense against the allegations rather than dig for the truth.

Based on what I've been told, this meeting was no different.

The format was basically to ask questions that were aimed at disputing that any maraviroc pre-marketing meetings ever took place with physicians, or that if they were, that they didn't rise to the level of illegal promotion.

Unfortunately for Pfizer's lawyers, I hear they came back exasperated, since Jane Roe, without notes or anything, gave them the full story, the same way she's told it to me.

One person claimed, "If you hadn't made this public with all those documents, the company could have disavowed knowledge of the exsistence of any of these meetings."

Another HIV sales sales rep who was interrogated claims Joshua S. Levy from Ropes & Gray let it slip that others in sales management were disputing they had any knowledge of any of the allegations by Jane Roe.

Since there are only 43 reps in Pfizer's HIV sales force, it begs the question, if this assertion is true, shouldn't they have known this, and if they didn't know, why not? Have they had a sales force going crazy behind their backs? Or were they just not up to the job of supervising their employees? Or is this a truthful statement in the first place?

Levy was, as expected, not forthcoming with any information at all but it was clear Pfizer sees a problem and wants it fixed.

Among the most explosive allegations made at these meetings with Joshua Levy was that "in a conference call we were were told to delete all maraviroc info off our computers."

Levy allegedly disputed this saying "didn't they say to put it in a folder?"

The reps responded, "no they told us to do that with all the unapproved materials they have been asking us to use."

As expected, a number of Pfizer HIV sales reps are now corresponding with each other about the interrogations they've gone through and speculation is rampant what will happen to sales management in the HIV area.

As for Pfizer, they are sitting tight and have not yet fired Jane Roe.

"We expect FDA approval for maraviroc by June 20 and we'll be launching this baby in July. Until then, everyone has been ordered not to rock the boat."

So, perhaps, Jane Roe is safe in her job for another month.

As for Pfizer, clearly they have a very different approach to whistleblowers than AstraZeneca, who never started a witch hunt.

The whistleblowers at AstraZeneca stated, "We see that the company is making an effort to clean up their act and want to give them a chance to do so. To their credit, there has been no 'witch hunt' to discover our identities or retaliate against us."

Unfortunately, that is not a claim Pfizer can make.


[Identifying information in this article has been changed and certain quotes modified to maintain confidentiality of sources. For legal disclaimer go here. And read all about the maraviroc scandal here.]

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Blogger Pharma Spy said...

I'm glad you mentioned that AstraZeneca did not go down this dark path. It's obvious that Pfizer has no interest in doing the right thing whatsoever.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems that your postings of emails lead to this person's problems with Pfizer (who I agree is the evil one). For the record, are you assuming no responsibility whatever for this? Legal or OTHERWISE? Was this "outing" of the whistleblower discussed as a possibility when you received the emails?

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe Pfizer should triangulate who started this mess to begin with..Since I am one of the sources I can tell you no one has at anytime released information to DR Rost without knowing the possible ramifications. We know Pfizer has and will use the email server as a source or verification and will then pursue any and all suspected leakers. Many of us have come to DR Rost expecting the full weight of Pfizer to come down on us and we were not disappointed. The thing Pfizer doesn't get is this we just want to do the right thing and are willing to fight it out and since the main stream press is unwilling or unable to participate we go to DR Rost. This is about exposing wrong and making it right for the future because none of can unring the bell...too bad Pfizer doesn't get how easy it would be to resolve this issue they are the ones making this into a scandal not us...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

3 Cheers for the integrity of "Jane Roe"!!!

It's like what Dr. Rost, other whistleblowers, etc. keep trying to say that too many at Pfizer on CafePharma, mainstream media, panicked shareholders and everyone else just appear too f-ing dense to grasp . . . that this isn't the act of people who hate their jobs and have sour grapes for the company or anything of the sort. INSTEAD, these are people who in fact LOVE what they do everyday-- despite management abuse and paranoia-- the daily function of their job brings them tremendous satisfaction and they miss it far more even than the salary when they're gone.

These, indeed, are people who in fact do NOT have Pfizer's destruction at heart. Quite the contrary, they are the ones who actually grasp how successful Pfizer could be by just playing within the rules.

Pfizer has, across the board, the best drugs on the market when used only for what they were legitimately approved for. That fact alone, when coupled with even half-competent sales people, would have made and maintained their level as the biggest Pharma Company in the world.

The real problem at Pfizer is having dumb-ass lawyers and business people who don't know shit about bio-chemistry driving the ship. They're so f-ing stupid that they don't understand the quality of their own drugs and don't have a rat's ass idea of how to sell them except for using bribes and cheating the system to push them on people who don't need them-- and will potentially develop lifelong illness or death from them-- all because management is to f-ing stupid and greedy in the short-term and don't give a shit if their patients or the company is still around in five years.

This shit-ass management is screwing their shareholders (most of whom are too stupid themselves to realize it), their patients, and their employees TOTALLY Unnecessarily!!! And even then they're to f-ing stupid to see how they're hurting themselves personally.

At the rate things are going, Astra Zeneca and Schering will still be around and strong in five years while Pfizer will have gone the way of Global Crossing or Enron-- and we'll have dumb-ass lawyers, business execs and thieves to blame for it. Anyone who is truly loyal to Pfizer would feel greatly hurt by that fact and by what current management is doing to the company. "Jane Roe", Peter Rost and others could have maintained Pfizer as the biggest drug company in the world-- and so could anyone else in management who had a brain and wasn't pushed out the door. Instead we've got the same f-ing management paradigm and philosophy at Pfizer that the U.S. Justice Department has where they've destroyed or removed anyone worth a shit and it's all come around to blow up in their face. The difference between John Ashcroft and Jim Comey versus dumb-ass Gonzales is the same difference we have between Bill Steere versus dumb-asses like Hank McKinnell and Jeff Kindler who don't know shit about the drugs they're marketing and so use bullying, intimidation and bribes and straight-out fraud as the fall-back plan.

Integrity is one of Pfizer's "core values"??? I don't think so!!! The people with integrity and the true best interests of the long-term strength of the company at heart are the Rosts and the "Jane Roe"s of the company trying to stop the train before it crashes in the ravine ahead, and Pfizer throws them off the train and just keeps increasing speed toward that ravine-- while fellow employees, and shareholders in control of the media, throw garbage from the train onto those thrown off for integrity and for trying to stop the trains pending destruction and cheer their own demise as train passengers as the ravine hastens nearer. (Dumb-asses one and all!)

It's not just patients, insurance premium payers, tax payers, and lovers of truth and justice who owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dr. Rost, Jane Roe, and others like them-- it is also Pfizer itself, as well as it's shareholders-- for the sacrifices those have made trying to stop the train's demise before being thrown off or under it themselves.

And Pfizer, visitors of cafepharma, etc. all still want to believe that Dr. Rost was in it for the money and didn't care about Pfizer or the industry, that Jane Roe was somehow in it just for herself (I'm sure that's why the "marinating" is so pleasant right now-- you know because she was doing all of this to make her life so much easier and to get all that money . . . Oh, wait, that's right, she LOST money, her career and future for coming forward-- So what in the hell do these dumb-asses think was her motive in coming forward when she had everything to lose and NOTHING to gain-- but that's right, she must have just been doing all of this for herself and trying to harm the company that provided her living because she didn't have anything better to do that day.)

Dumb-asses at Pfizer-- you'd have still had a company, a job, and a company in existence to pay your pension in five years if you hadn't pushed the people trying to save the train off of the train.

It is my guess that Dr. Rost does, and Jane Roe will, miss the work they've done in the industry and for Pfizer everyday for the rest of their lives-- and for reasons far beyond the salary-- but because they truly enjoyed the work. How different Pfizer's future could have been by embracing them rather than taking every effort and expense to destroy them. Even dumb-ass business people have to grasp the most elementary lesson on cost-benefit analysis-- which by itself screams out their imbecility here. They were willing to spend twice as much on the cost versus the benefit just for the sadistic joy of bullying-- all other aspects of their approach to these whistleblowers has been a dramatic net loss!

Blogger Pharma Giles said...

If the hoards of corporate spooks spent as much time looking for non-compliance as they do hounding those who identify it, then perhaps everyone would benefit.

Isn't hounding whistleblowers like, er, illegal? Or are we "leveraging our scale" again (i.e. "we're big enough to ignore the law")?

This "marinading" seems to be a standard practice to inflict upon the nonconformist at Pfizer. Is it a "leader behaviour" do you think?


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