PETER ROST: PHARMA MARKETING EXPERT WITNESS. AWP, MEDICAL DEVICE EXPERT.: Pfizer's letters to the maraviroc whistleblower!

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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?


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

seems like they have a form letter they send to make you go away...did they investigate? what did they investigate?what was the remedial action? how was the rep affected? did they include Jane Roe in the process? what was the original complaint? inquiring minds want to know....


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I seem to remember there were or are only 40 some odd reps in the HIV division so it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out word would travel quickly. Many reps would undoubtedly take it personal for a couple of reasons. One would be they hate to have what they have been doing scrutinized, two they fear retaliation if they back up the whistleblower. The sales director in a small division has pretty tight control of the morale of the group and many directors use retaliation through performance reviews and pitting loyalist against the tattletale. How could anyone think Jane could survive in that type of atmosphere....It seems though Pfizer's HIV division picked a fight with someone who was willing to risk it all for a true open door...good luck Jane the odds are not in your favor...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"BIG MAMA"..has a strict policy of non-retaliation against persons who make reports under this policy. yada yada yada,...of non-retaliation is guaranteed under the yada yada yada and violation of this right will not be tolerated.Yada yada yada... identities will be fully protected.. yada yada yada".
The Big Mama ain't Pfizer but just another of the big pharma companies with the same rules, codes, rights, protections, non-retaliations and so son.
Yes Jane's days with Pfizer are numberd but this is actually lucky for her. She does not need this or them. Hopefully she has a good lawyer to get this departure done right and perhaps the DOJ will do the rest of the job that needs done.
This case also shows the name of the game for them is cover up, cover up, cover up. Nothing else is important.
BigMama, call me if you want to talk it over. You know I am right.
ps: the unusual aspect of this case is that someone other then Jane got fired. Usually they get promoted after the cover up is done.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it time for Pfizer to cut their losses with Jane? who knows how much more she has to say...In answer to the last comment me thinks their is more going on at Pfizer's HIV division than just the maraviroc scandal. I think where there is smoke there is fire they don't just decide one day to commit unethical acts it is usually standard practice and in this case carried over from their other drug to maraviroc...just a guess

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guessed right. In the biz it is called: organised, planned, deliberate, authorized (you get the picture) misconduct. Nothing is left to chance and nothing happens by accident. It is part of their MO.


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