Pfizer's letters to the maraviroc whistleblower!
Pfizer whistleblower Jane Roe contacted Question Authority in April which resulted in the story "Pfizer whistleblower accuses company of using sales force to illegally market new AIDS-drug before FDA approval".
After the additional articles, "Pfizer sales rep: "PFE tried to find 'naïve doctors' for illegal premarketing of maraviroc!" and "Pfizer's "Delete! Delete!" memo: "Do NOT forward or retain this e-mail . . ." were published, Pfizer hired the eminent Boston law firm Ropes & Gray to investigate the maraviroc scandal and the interrogation of numerous sales reps started.
I was just told that yet another sales rep who met with Josh Levy from Ropes & Gray in New York was "very disturbed to find out all they wanted to know was his involvement in the maraviroc issue and who was in contact with Rost."
Pfizer also used the redacted e-mails reproduced on Question Authority to identify Jane Roe* and haul her in for interrogation.
But before Jane came to Question Authority, she had tried for over a year to address the internal problems at Pfizer. And it didn't help that she'd worked almost a decade for Pfizer with outstanding performance appraisals; after she started to report her concerns her performance rating suddenly went into tailspin. It does appear, however, as if Pfizer took some action; the district manager Jane reported to "left Pfizer" and some senior managers within Pfizer allegedly has told the sales force that Jane "got her fired."
If true, I'm sure they did this just to make sure that Jane got real popular with her colleagues.
Below is an e-mail from Pfizer HR, confirming Pfizer's initial investigation of the maraviroc affair. Please note that they write that Pfizer will “not disclose the specific action that may have been taken in response to your complaint.”
The fact that they "may" have taken action certainly doesn't give anyone confidence that anything was done. And very clearly, the fact that they wrote "we have concluded our investigation" is something that indicates they didn't try very hard.
If they had tried harder, they wouldn't have been forced to start a new investigation when I started writing, and wouldn't have been forced to hire Ropes & Gray. So, it is easy to conclude that this letter is the smoking gun indicating a corporate cover-up.
In response to this letter, on April 10, 2007, Jane Roe's attorney wrote a letter to Thomas “T.R.” Kelley, Office of the General Counsel of Pfizer, in which he stated that, Jane Roe's "continued employment at Pfizer is untenable. I have no doubt that Pfizer fired [name redacted] based upon Jane Roe's complaint about her conduct. This is common knowledge within the company even though Ms. Roe was given assurances of confidentiality."
Jane's lawyer also writes, "As a result of blowing the whistle on [redacted], Ms. Roe is now a pariah among upper level management at Pfizer . . . Ms. Roe also received a letter from Tina Hester of Pfizer Human Resources warning her that the details underlying his complaint must remain confidential. In addition, she wrote that Pfizer will “not disclose the specific action that may have been taken in response to your complaint.” (Emphasis added). Without knowing what action Pfizer may have taken, what level of confidence can Ms. Roe have that Pfizer has addressed all of its ethical and legal obligations in this matter? Have federal regulators been informed? Has criminal conduct occurred triggering reporting obligations? I suggest that Pfizer’s so-called “Open Door” policy works both ways. However, not only has Pfizer refused to tell Ms. Roe what action has been taken in response to his complaint, she has been issued a threatening gag order. This hints at a concerted cover-up effort."
In response to this letter, Pfizer sent the following reply:
So about a week before Jane Roe contacted Question Authority, Pfizer claimed they took "appropriate remedial action," and they were looking into "additional acts of retaliation."
After doing this they apparently decided that the right course of action was to shut down Jane Roe's corporate e-mail account. No retaliation, of course, just what you do with a whistleblower who reports allegations about illegal marketing.
The question then remains, if they took "appropriate remedial action," why did they need to call in the lawyers again when the maraviroc story was published in Question Authority?