The Day: "Pfizer whistleblower in running for top FDA post"
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Pfizer whistleblower in running for top FDA post
Former Pfizer VP Rost finds support for job
By Lee Howard
Published on 12/6/2008
The Day, CT
If Pfizer Inc. were to describe its worst nightmare, it might very well be seeing former company whistleblower Peter Rost become commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
So guess who is actively seeking the FDA's top post?
Rost, a former Pfizer vice president who turned whistleblower after he alleged that a subsidiary of the company started promoting off-label uses of various drugs, not only is in the running for FDA commissioner, but he has at least two congressmen in his corner.
This week, the Web site Pharmalot reported that U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, would be sending a letter of recommendation for Rost as well as several other candidates for the post. Rost also has picked up support from U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., chairman of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who has been involved in many investigations of the FDA.
”I encourage you to seek meaningful reform of the FDA, which begins with a complete change in the FDA's leadership,” Stupak wrote in a letter to president-elect Obama endorsing Rost's candidacy.
Rost said he is looking for a shakeup of the FDA, including a reorienting of the agency's priorities from serving the drug industry to helping American citizens.
”That means the agency would focus not only on the fastest and most efficient processing of new drug applications, but would also ensure that unsafe drugs are taken off the market or labeling (is) revised in a more timely manner,” Rost said in an interview this week with eDrugSearch. com, which endorsed his candidacy.
Some of Rost's most controversial stances include his views on reimportation of drugs from Canada, which he approves, and his opposition to direct-to-consumer advertising.
”DTC advertising is not part of a 'free market' - it is part of manipulation of consumers who don't know better and doctors who give the patient whatever they ask for,” Rost said.
Pfizer fired Rost in 2005 after it became known that the marketing executive's allegations about off-label promotion of drugs had led to a criminal investigation against the company.
Rost went on to write a bestseller about his experiences, titled “The Whistleblower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman,” which detailed payouts to doctors, marketing drugs to children and various illegal and unethical activities he said he witnessed.