Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006: The year when I was right on!

No false modesty in this final post for 2006. I was right, so, so right. Not that that helped me keep my job, but at least I have this great blog to brag on . . .

I don't copy and paste much from other articles onto this blog. But sometimes another article is so right on, (and supports everything I've written about) that it can't be said any better. So I've decided to reprint such an article.

Perhaps I should also note that the only difference between my opinions and the mainstream media is that I have sometimes pointed out things before the mainstream media have discovered them, and I've apparently also helped a few investors and hedge funds see through the corporate hype, which they have gratefully written to this blog about. I may also, on occasion, have expressed myself in a more forthright manner than the very polite regular press. Funny thing, though, that same press didn't mind using a strong language after the fact (who thought the WSJ would pen a headline "Off with their heads" as they wrote about Hank Mckinnell and Pfizer). But the same press rarely used such words before the action.

Anyway, I won't keep you in suspense any longer; here is the end of the year corporate summary, from the superb financial journalist Gretchen Morgenson at the New York Times, confirming pretty much everything this blog has written about in 2006. And Gretchen is pretty forthright. She could almost start writing for this blog.

The New York Times
December 31, 2006
Gretchen Morgenson
A Year to Suspend Disbelief

AS 2006 recedes and investors ponder another round of amazing events in the business world, one theme keeps recurring. It was a year when truth was more audacious than fiction.

A hedge fund loses $6 billion in a week. A chief executive receives an $82 million pension after his company loses billions in shareholder value. A board chairwoman snoops on her fellow directors and journalists. Authorities discover that a throng of executives have spent years shifting stock option dates to fatten already-bulging paychecks.

Not one of these scenes would have been credible had it appeared in a novel. Real life, however, is another matter. And in 2006, investors had to suspend their disbelief almost daily.

It was also a banner year for C.E.O.’s heading to the slammer. Jeffrey K. Skilling, the former chief executive of Enron, was sentenced to 24 years in prison for his role in the fraud and conspiracy at the company.

Sanjay Kumar, former chief executive of Computer Associates, received 12 years’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to fraud and obstruction of justice for participating in a $2.2 billion accounting debacle at his company.

David C. Wittig, former chief executive of Westar Energy, a Kansas utility, got an 18-year sentence for looting millions from the company.

And Stuart Wolff, founder and chief executive of Homestore, an online real estate listings concern, was found guilty of insider trading, lying and conspiring, and received a 15-year sentence.

Happily, as each former executive toddled off to jail, the stock market put in a stellar performance. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index rose 13.6 percent for the year and the Dow Jones industrial average even surpassed its Internet bubble high seen back in 2000.

Anthony Trollope, the brilliant depicter of the 19th-century social strata in England, would have appreciated the events of 2006, when truth trumped fiction. And in honor of the rogue at the center of “The Way We Live Now,” the Trollope novel, here are the Augustus Melmotte Annual Prizes.

Mr. Melmotte, who would have been quite at home on the Wall Street of today, was a financier of questionable background who rose in London society on ill-gotten gains. Until, that is, he was found to be a fraud.

The envelopes, please.

THE ‘WHAT WOULD STALIN DO?’ AWARD To Robert L. Nardelli, the lushly compensated chief executive of Home Depot, who ran the company’s annual shareholder meeting like a Gulag chief. No directors appeared, and Home Depot limited questions from its owners to just one per person — and they couldn’t last longer than a minute. When a questioner asked about board independence and conflicts of interest, Mr. Nardelli replied: “This is not the forum in which to address these comments.”

Mr. Nardelli later apologized for the performance. But the damage was done. In late December, an activist shareholder announced plans to propose in 2007 that an independent committee assess Home Depot management. Stay tuned to see if he’ll be forced to make his proposal at the meeting in one minute or less.

THE ‘WHERE ARE SHAREHOLDERS’ PENSIONS?’ AWARD To Hank McKinnell, the former chief executive of Pfizer, who received an $82 million pension even as shareholders lost $137 billion on his watch. But that wasn’t all Mr. McKinnell received. Just before Christmas, Pfizer disclosed that he would receive about $200 million in stock, pension, deferred compensation and perquisites upon his departure from the company. Shareholders even had to pay $305,644 to cover Mr. McKinnell’s unused vacation days. Cheesy.

THE DOG ATE MY E-MAIL AWARD To Morgan Stanley, accused by regulators at the NASD of using the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center as an excuse not to cough up e-mail records that aggrieved clients needed for their arbitration cases. In fact, millions of these supposedly destroyed e-mails were available shortly after the disaster but were not produced for investors. The case was the latest in a string of stonewalling tactics by the firm.

THE THREE TIMES A CHARM AWARD To federal prosecutors who won a conviction of Walter A. Forbes, left, the former chief executive and head book-cooker of the Cendant Corporation, on the third try. Mr. Forbes, whose fraud occurred so long ago — eight years — that it is barely remembered, awaits sentencing. When he resigned from the company long ago, he said he would repay his $47 million in severance if he were convicted of a crime. Anyone think that promise will be kept?

THE OWNERS DON’T MIND A LITTLE CHISELING AWARD To Dr. William W. McGuire, founder and former chief executive of the UnitedHealth Group, who came under fire for receiving stock options that were artificially backdated to bolster their value. Speaking to The Associated Press in April, six months before he resigned under pressure from the company, Dr. McGuire played down his well-timed option grants with this comment: “This isn’t a giveaway of money that occurs out of the premiums of health care recipients. These are shareholder dollars.” Well, in that case, go right ahead.

THE HOW TO BLOW THROUGH $6 BILLION AWARD To Amaranth Advisors, a hedge fund that said it was up 25 percent one day and that was practically kaput the next week. Wrong-way bets on natural gas prices made $6 billion evaporate almost overnight. It takes skill to lose that much money that fast.

THE FOLLOW THE MONEY AWARD To James B. Lockhart III, the director of the Office of Federal Housing and Enterprise Oversight, who sued Franklin D. Raines, the former chief executive of Fannie Mae, the mortgage giant, to recover about $85 million in bonuses he received but did not earn. After the oversight office spent more than two years dissecting the giant accounting fraud at Fannie Mae, the company had to reduce its earnings from 2001 to 2004 by $6.3 billion. By suing Mr. Raines and two other executives, Mr. Lockhart hopes to get back some of the bonuses generated by the fraud. Congratulations, Mr. Lockhart. Perhaps your suit will encourage similar actions at other companies.

THE BUNGLING GUMSHOES AWARD To Patricia C. Dunn, right, the former chairwoman of Hewlett-Packard, and her band of goofy snoops who failed in their efforts to identify and punish a board member considered too talkative. Ms. Dunn oversaw the hiring of private investigators who improperly secured directors’ phone records as well as those of financial and technology reporters. The company also tried to dupe a reporter into revealing sources through the use of a tracking technology embedded in an e-mail message.

The California attorney general’s office charged Ms. Dunn with four felony counts in connection with the snooping; she has maintained her innocence and is contesting the charges, arguing that company lawyers had approved all the fun and games — proving yet again that what is legally defensible is not always sensible.




The life and execution of Saddam Hussein in 1.5 minutes.

This is not a tasteful video, but neither was Mr. Hussein's life. There was nothing tasteful about how his sons raped women or how Mr. Hussein raped his people. And now they are all raping each other. And our soldiers are in the middle of this mess. What a sad story.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Translate this blog!

In the past I've described how you can translate blogs to other languages, using Google.

The Clinical Cases and Images - Blog just helped me get the code to insert a drop down box right into my blog site to help you do this when you visit.

So now you can easily translate The Dr. Peter Rost blog from:

English to Spanish
English to French
English to German
English to Portuguese
English to Italian
English to Chinese
English to Russian
English to Japanese
English to Arabic

Just go to the box right below my book in the left column.

I'm enjoying the holidays.

It is very quiet and only a bug is running around on this blog.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Do you want to get together?

Then, come to the McNally Robinson bookstore on 52 Prince St. (between Lafayette and Mulberry) in New York (212)274-1160 Tuesday, January 2, 7pm.

It will be you, me, and all the lawyers and detectives and PR people from Pfizer, gathering in one happy group! (You'll recognize the detectives as the only ones who don't enjoy the show and fiddling with hidden tape recorders and small cameras.)

Here's what will happen:

First Tuesdays Political Series hosted by Mark Crispin Miller

Peter Rost, author of The Whistleblower

This monthly series with author and activist Mark Crispin Miller features authors whose books tackle political and public issues from a stance outside the mainstream. Peter Rost, author of The Whistleblower, was a senior executive at one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies. His book details the immoral and often criminal activities of his corporation, and their efforts to silence him. Join us for a discussion with the author about Big Pharma and the challenges of corporate ethics.

And, if you really want to enjoy yourself, you may want to pass by the famous Quark Spy Shop in New York, just like the real investigators.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas!

And Merry Hanukkah and Kwanzaa!

This blog is hibernating for a few days . . .

ANOTHER invitation to host a radio show!

I have to admit this is starting to feel a bit weird. I just got ANOTHER invitation to host a radio show, within just a week of receiving the first one.

But this one is my own fault. Last week I did the “Barry Gordon From Left Field” show (download here). Initially I was going to do maybe half an hour interview, but they apparently liked the talk so much that we spent a full hour together. At some point in the show they asked me about the future, and I happened to mention that I was in the market looking to do my own thing on radio.

To my surprise, after the show, the producer from "Barry Gordon From Left Field" wrote to me and said the station network may be looking for additional talent, and gave me all the info I needed to introduce myself to the right people. Which I did, not really believing anyone would respond. I mean, after all, I know how hard it is to get a VP job in pharmaceuticals and I didn’t think it would be any easier—quite the opposite—to get a radio gig.

So, of course, my jaw dropped when this week a gentleman called from KCAA 1050 AM RADIO and said he had two openings, one for an hour on Saturdays and another one on Sundays. He also told me that contrary to the other station I had talked to they did have to follow FCC guidelines, like any terrestrial radio station (which really doesn't worry me, because, I wasn't planning on undressing anyone, or anything like that). He also literally sold me on the station, telling me all kinds of technical data and the fact that they had six call-in lines for discussions with listeners.

Of course, this is all fantastic.

But, I’m a bit of a skeptical individual. First, I imagine that to really make it in radio, or television, isn’t very easy. Like probably one in ten thousand. There has to be a hook here, somewhere. Of course, I think I could be an incredibly entertaining host, talking to all kinds of fun people; but two invitations, for two shows, in one week? C’mon. There is something here that isn’t quite right. So I’m going to continue to dig and find out what the real deal is here. And when I do I’ll tell you all about it.

And just so that I could really check things out (after all if, these two stations are both interested, maybe I have more to offer than I thought . . . ) I sent a note to one of the biggest talk-show networks in New York, one where I’ve been a past guest.

I didn’t expect to hear back, because, after all I do have an accent, if nothing else. I mean, it wasn’t long ago since they were dubbing Schwarzenegger’s movies. Then again, they stopped doing that and now we have a California governor with a German-Austrian accent. So perhaps there is hope for the first radio show host with a Swedish accent. Hey, maybe I could do that and then run for governor? Sorry, I forgot, first I would have to become a wealthy actor or Wall Street Mogul, like the current NJ governor. I guess that’s one job where it takes a lot of money to make a little money.

But back to this big time talk radio network. To my surprise, and in spite of my Swedish accent, they responded, right away. They said the timing wasn’t right, just now, but asked me to contact them again end of January. Clearly that wasn’t a complete blow-off. It wasn’t even a blow off! In fact, they’ve asked me to get back to them.

No one is more surprised than me. But of course, I shouldn’t just jump on the first opportunity in this area. Anyway, I have to spend beginning of next year promoting “The Whistleblower” overseas. In about a month we’re releasing the Swedish translation called “Sjuka Pengar” and the press and television is apparently already lining up. My Swedish publisher tried to get the local Swedish Pfizer general manager to participate in a television debate, but he refused.

I’m a little bit surprised about that. I mean, with a big company that has such vast resources; and all the best brains in the world, and all the right facts, why don’t they just want to crush me in a public debate and prove to the world that I’m wrong?

It would be so easy!

The only problem they may have is of course if THEY’RE wrong. And maybe scared?

Could that be the reason?

After all, here we have a new market, a new debate, and they could’ve learned from all the mistakes they’ve done in the debate over here, and set the record straight from the beginning. But quite frankly, who knows what the people at Pfizer or in the pharmaceutical industry are thinking?

One thing is clear, though. If I ever do get a radio show I’m very unlikely to get any drug advertising. Which is too bad, since they’ve got tons of advertising money, and I’ve been pretty good at selling pharmaceuticals, in fact I’ve done a great jobs beating any sales forecast I ever had.

So if these people were smart, they’d line up right now and offer sponsoring money. The problem is they’re not smart enough to do that. Instead they continue to shoot themselves in the foot in all kinds of subtle ways.

Here's one example: Just who came up with the brilliant idea to fire thousands of Pfizer sales people the same day former Pfizer CEO Dr. McKinnell signs an agreement that gives him $198 million to walk away from that same company? Who on earth decided that timing was good?

I’m just asking . . .

And of course, people with that bad sense of timing can’t be expected to be smart enough to understand that cooperation might go a long way. I could bash bad drugs, bad decisions and bad drug company CEO's, on that imaginary radio show, and then I could say nice things about drugs I believe in, and about CEOs that know what they're doing. That, would be powerful advertising, I think. No sell-out, just the truth. I know that would shock some of my current readers, but I would clearly try to shock people a lot on that radio show, that's what makes things entertaining.

But I don't expect any of that to happen. Pharma is simply too stalinist-dogmatic-in-a-capitalistic-kind-of-way and that is one reason they are in the complete mess they’ve created all by themselves.

No one could have said it better than PhRMA’s new president, our friend Billy Tauzin, and I’m quoting PharmaGossip, quoting Billy:

"The worst thing that happened to our industry was that we got pushed into one political camp."

So says Billy Tauzin, former Republican congressman who is now president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

Remind me again Billy....... who was doing the pushing?


Thursday, December 21, 2006


Newspapers were filled with information about Dr. McKinnell's $82 million pension package this spring.

Shareholders were upset that Dr. McKinnell would receive this amount considering that Pfizer's stock had lost 37% of its value during Dr. McKinnell's tenure.

Dr. McKinnell claimed that this wasn't his fault. He said that the stock had been overvalued when he took over. He didn't say that shareholders had been stupid, but in essence that is the conclusion.

Dr. McKinnell, however, has been anything but stupid. On December 18, 2006, Pfizer entered into an agreement with Dr. McKinnell which details the terms of his departure from Pfizer.

What Dr. McKinnell and Pfizer kept as their own little secret is that the $82 million retirement package wasn't all this CEO had coming his way. Dr. McKinnell got canned from his CEO job in July 2006, almost two years before he was scheduled to step down, under pressure from investors angered about his retirement package and lack of performance. Dr. McKinnell then "decided" to retire from his chairman job a few months early, on December 18, 2006, so Pfizer has now been forced to file an 8-K statement.

Turns out Dr. McKinnell had a few more dollars stashed away: $78 million in deferred pay to be exact, and $38 million in stock and severance payments.

So congratulations are appropriate. Not every CEO can set investors straight; cut the share price in half, and take off with $198 million in his knapsack. That takes a certain kind of talent.

According to the separation agreement, Dr. McKinnell agrees to "provide reasonable assistance to and cooperate with the Company and its counsel in regard to any litigation presently pending or subsequently initiated involving matters of which Executive has particular knowledge as a result of Executive’s employment with the Company. Such assistance and cooperation shall consist of Executive making himself available at reasonable times for consultation with officers of the Company and its counsel and for depositions or other similar activity should the occasion arise."

That's good news for the many law firms that may be lining up to take Dr. McKinnell's deposition. After all, he might now have few excuses not to attend.

Miss USA: The Wolf in the Henhouse.

The master of personal PR just held a press conference. I’m talking about the Donald, of course.

So here we have a guy who’s been married . . . how many times?

And who has fathered . . . how many children, with how many women?

Not counting the women he didn’t marry and didn’t, well, procreate with.

And . . . he was supposed to be the judge of the 21-year old Miss USA, who had allegedly been out partying in New York; perhaps not so allegedly, but anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not all that enamored with her defense of “small town girl blinded by the flashing lights in the big city.” I don’t quite buy that part.

Miss USA had allegedly also kissed Miss Teen USA and brought home boys to her Trump apartment. As someone who doesn’t watch any “Miss thing,” I am, of course, at this point also completely confused. Just how many “Miss” competitions are there? Miss USA, Miss America, Miss Universe, Miss Teen? I’m just surprised Trump hasn’t emblazoned his name on one of those things and made it the “Miss Trump” contest. But I guess his third wife may object.

"I wouldn't say that I am an alcoholic. That would be pushing the envelope a little bit," Ms. Conner said. "I don't have a problem with anything like that." She said. But off to “rehab” Miss USA now goes.

Is rehab the new asylum of our time? I mean, in the past if a woman misbehaved she was dropped off somewhere in a convent far away, where no one could see here. That happened into 1996 in Ireland, documented in the amazing movie “The Magdalena Sisters.” Women were locked up after having babies out of wedlock, forced to do hard labor for the nuns.

But today, if someone has made a fool of himself it is off to “rehab.” When Mel Gibson uttered anti-Semitic remarks to Malibu police, off to rehab he went. That was substance abuse rehab, not, “thou shalt love all people equally rehab.”

But ten years from now, there may actually be some California ashram capitalizing on this trend. After all, making racist comments in LA appears to have become an epidemic, at least if you watch Entertainment News. Which I don’t, of course.

But back to Miss USA: She was out drinking and stained that $17,000 tiara. So off to rehab she goes. Meanwhile, that led to me finding out that Trump is in charge of Miss USA. By the way, isn’t that like the wolf being in charge of the henhouse? I’m just asking.

After all, it doesn’t appear to be quite right to have Mr. Trump responsible for the moral standards of a new generation does it? When wolfish, serial-marrying billionaires have become the public guardians of the virtue of young women, then I would think we have probably arrived at a new low-point when it comes to public hypocrisy, made right here in the USA.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


As we approach another holiday season, it may be appropriate to reflect on life.

For most of us the holidays coming up mean spending time with friends and family.

And for many, friends and family are what really counts.

So how do we win those lifelong friends and live happily with them ever after?

First, it’s important to agree with people if you want them to become your friend. You should preferably like the same things and the same people. But research has shown that even more important than agreeing with people and liking the same things, is to dislike the same things. Apparently the common bond created by disliking something or someone is more important than the bond created by liking someone.

Perhaps this is some remnant from the caveman instincts that permitted the group to survive at the expense of other people and other groups. And perhaps, to a certain extent, that explains nationalism and why so many atrocities have been committed against anyone who is different from ourselves; whether it relates to color, religion or geography.

So, as we enter the holiday season—and please note that I use the politically correct terminology—perhaps we should all reflect upon what and whom we like and enjoy in life, rather than what we dislike. Then again, if we really want to bond and make friends for life, a small dose of antagonism is likely to do the trick.

I know that worked for me at the age of eight, when I first met my future wife. I still clearly remember that we both agreed that we hated to eat soup. And here we are, still together, almost forty years later. But of course, our taste buds have developed; and now we enjoy both tomato and potato soups—any other soup is still banned.

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My own talk-radio show?

I continue to get requests to participate in various radio shows and to help the media understand what goes on inside the pharmaceutical industry. In fact, I was contacted by a range of media, from CBS News to Nature, to help them understand the situation within Pfizer when the company cancelled the development of torcetrapib two days after CEO Jeff Kindler had said torcetrapib was “one of the most important developments in our generation.”

So I didn't expect anything unusual when an executive producer for a large radio station left a message last week saying that she was in the process of working on programming for 2007 and wanted to discuss the possibility of me doing a show on their network.

The only unusual part was that she insisted on talking to me in person to set up a time for the interview. I suggested we could do this per email, since it was easy for me to schedule. Then she explained, that no, she wasn't interested in having me as a guest on a show, she wanted me to host my own show.

And the more I thought about this the better it sounded. After all, if I could do a talk-show called "Question Authority with Dr. Peter Rost," that could be a lot of fun.

In fact, I could ask all the questions people usually don't dare asking of a variety of high-powered people. Glen Beck on steroids, if you so wish.

So yesterday the executive producer called and we had a long chat and she seemed to like my ideas. She also pointed out that they were not covered by FCC guidelines. That comment surprised me for a second, because I thought the FCC guidelines mainly concerned decency, and I have no intention of starting to compete with Howard Stern. I'm quite sure my wife would object to something like that. But at least it was clear that I could be provocative and impudent.

Now it is my turn to do the due diligence and check if this makes sense.

What do you think?

Friday, December 15, 2006

From Pfizer message board: Cutest speaker?

From Pfizer's message board on Cafe Pharma:
Yesterday, 09:38 AM
Anonymous Posts: n/a

Re: Cutest speaker????


Originally Posted by Anonymous
Let's hear it?

Peter Rost! He is yummy and his accent drives me CRAZZZY!

I'm blushing. Happy some in the Pfizer sales force like my speeches, though.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Writing Angst.

I haven’t had much of writing angst. Usually when I sit down the words simply flow. That’s both good and bad. It can go pretty fast, but often I find ways to improve on what I wrote later. Or I decide that what I wrote didn’t really convey what I was thinking, so I tinker with a few words. After all, the mind can be a pretty muddy place.

But sometimes it is really hard to decide if something is edgy and fun, or simply over the edge. And that’s the time when I wish there was an editor nearby, the way professional magazines do this.

I’ve received a little bit of help in the sense that lately many of my articles have been published in a variety of other media. See this.

So when I have something I’m not sure if it is going to come across the right way I can send it over to one of those newsletters and a real editor will judge if the story is worth printing.

I have to admit that I struggled a bit with the story I’ve been a very bad boy. It appears in full length in CounterPunch. And since this is a liberal-progressive, women’s lib type publication, I figured if they appreciated the tone, then I would be fine. But in my own post I eventually decided to cut the second part—about the attractive lawyer. That’s the downside with publishing other places—you can’t change when you change your mind.

What I struggled with was if the second part was lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek enough, or if it could be misunderstood.

No one would probably mind being described as attractive, yet, when it comes to women we have such a sensitive environment that this is a very tricky area. It is OK for a woman to say that another woman is appealing, but it is a lot trickier for a man to say this. And it is probably even trickier to say this about a lawyer. That was, of course, part of the appeal of writing the story this way.

And then I realized, not knowing what is right, I could ask YOU.

Should I have kept the original article, the way it appears in CounterPunch or is the new shorter version I’ve been a very bad boy the way to go?

I really do want to know what you think, since my mind is, well muddy. And if you do comment, it would be good to know if you are a man or a woman . . .

Do girls prefer bad boys?

I’ve always had the feeling that many girls really prefer the bad boys; maybe not as marriage material, but for pretty much everything else.

And I just got some of that confirmed when I wrote my recent article “I’ve been a bad boy.” This article was featured by CounterPunch, which has been named “America’s best political newsletter” by Out of Bounds Magazine.

In that article I had a link to the Dr. Peter Rost blog. And the onslaught was immediate and overwhelming, like a tsunami wave of readers. Mind you, I’ve had a few articles published by CounterPunch in the past, but nothing created a storm of new readers sweeping down onto my personal blog like this one.

Of course, I don’t know if all those readers consisted of girls, and clearly the fact that CounterPunch had added the words, “Posting Naughty Pictures” above my headline “I've Been a Very Bad Boy,” may have had something to do with the onslaught. So maybe it was mostly men coming by.

But I’d like to pretend it was mostly women.

After all, the article really dealt with the fact that I’d been a bad boy and hadn’t stuck to more serious topics and the article also happened to get into the joy of attending depositions.

And many readers obviously wanted to know more, so they came over to my place to take a look at the other articles.

It made me realize that what we really, really want and what we say we want are often to different things.

It’s the old story about the guy who claims he reads Playboy because of the articles.

Reality is that we may all be interested in important political stuff, analysis, and policy, but there are a few things that are simply irresistible.

Like a bad boy or a legal drama.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Memo to Sales Personnel

A dear reader pointed out that a hilarious post has appeared on Pfizer's Cafe Pharma message board. And just to show you that the sales reps, who are being downsized, do have some humor, here it is:


As a result of the reduction of money budgeted for department areas, we are forced to cut down on our number of personnel. One of the first areas to be affected will be our field sales force. We are proposing initiating the reduction in sales force through voluntary means.

Under this plan, older employees will be asked to take early retirement, thus permitting the retention of lower salaried,younger personnel who represent our future.

Therefore, a program to phase out older personnel by the end of the current fiscal year, via retirement, will be placed into effect.

This program will be known as SLAP (Sever Late-Aged Personnel).

Employees who are SLAPPED will be given the opportunity to look for jobs outside the company.

SLAPPED employees can request a review of their employment records before actual retirement takes place This review phase of the program is called SCREW (Survey of Capabilities of Retired Early Workers).

All employees who have been SLAPPED and SCREWED may file an appeal with upper management.

This appeal is called SHAFT (Study by Higher Authority Following Termination).

Under the terms of the new policy, an employee may be SLAPPED once, SCREWED twice, but may be SHAFTED as many times as the company deems appropriate.

If an employee follows the above procedure, he/she will be entitled to get: HERPES (Half Earnings for Retired Personnel's Early Severance) or CLAP (Combined Lump sum Assistance Payment).

As HERPES and CLAP are considered benefit plans, once an employee has received HERPES or CLAP they will no longer be eligible to be SCREWED by the company.

The next phase of our voluntary reduction program will be aimed at the younger employees. The company will initiate a policy of intense training and frequent testing. We will moniter the results of this Special High Intensity Training (SHIT). The field personnel who do not perform well when receiving SHIT will be given more SHIT.

We take pride in the amount of SHIT management can dish out. J&J CAN give employees more SHIT than any company in the industry. Our managers are specially trained to make sure representatives receive all the SHIT they can stand. We envision a fair number of field personnel will not be able to handle all the SHIT and will eventually resign.

These programs should drastically reduce the field personnel through voluntary means. Ultimately they will reduce costs and contribute to the overall profitability of Johnson & Johnson.

I’ve been a very bad boy.

For several days now, I haven’t posted those long, thoughtful, opinion pieces on politics, corporations and similar stuff.

Instead I’ve been posting videos with interest-grabbing headlines, funny little clips that illustrate some of the turmoil within Pfizer.

And I have to admit I did this because I just couldn’t help myself. After all, I’m not a very serious guy: I really just want to have some fun. I used to have that fun when I was running a business, but since I’m no longer allowed to do that, I have to limit myself to having fun running this web site. I also thought that all the Pfizer people coming here would enjoy, which they have certainly proven they did, based on the stampede.

But of course I shouldn’t do this; I promised a few weeks ago that I would stick to a new format. And I managed to do just that for several weeks. But then, the primal caveman urge to simply have some fun took over. The fact that ratings literally exploded also had something to do with this. Those ratings, they’re like crack; pretty addictive. You see the masses coming, and you can’t help but post yet another video.

But my mother sometimes tells me I shouldn’t look at ratings. After all, she says, it is not the quantity of visitors but the quality. And when I get lots of visitors using topics or pictures she doesn’t approve of, then, she doesn’t feel I should be happy about those visitors.

I guess the problem for me is that I’m really an extrovert person. So not working with a lot of people makes me reach out through this blog. It becomes a virtual reality having those visitors coming by. My real-life joy, however, is when I get to attend a legal deposition with Pfizer. I just had another one yesterday, when my lawyer questioned one of Pfizer’s employees.

You might think it’s a bit unusual to enjoy a deposition, but it just tells you how much I enjoy interaction with others, even if they are Pfizer’s defense lawyers.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dr. Rost--A Maven?

I've been called many things, but I think this is the first time I've been called a "Maven."

Here's the explanation, from CollectiveIntellect:

Someone pointed out the following post to me from a Dr Peter Rost today. Evidently, Dr. Rost, who is an ex exec at Pfizer, was recently contacted by a hedge fund who had found his blog via our Maven identification service. Dr Rost is one of the thousands of amazing individuals Collective Intellect has identified as a "Maven", and as such is helping to provide one more facet of transparency into subjects material to publicly traded companies.

Mavens are typically thought of as experts at some particular subject. We use the term a little loosely in the Malcom Gladwell Tipping Point sense. Mavens are people who have had unique and interesting insights in the past around a topic in which our customers have expressed interest, have a high probability of doing so in the future, and are connected to a network of people that will listen.

Finding these authorities can be a rather daunting programmatic exercise. After quite a bit of experimentation we've strung together a number of technologies including graph analysis, artificial intelligence, statistical language processing, and crowd sourcing to find the most likely credible sources. The artificial intelligence component uses the feedback loop to continuously refine that elite membership for our customers.

To put this into some perspective, about 8 out of every 100,000 posts that we pull in, pass the test of being a Collective Intellect Maven. However, of the group of sites and authors that make it to Maven status about 16 out of every 100 posts are categorized as Maven quality.
Thanks Dr. Rost for mentioning us.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dr. Rost blog used by Wall Street

I didn't know that so many hedge funds and other Wall Street firms had started reading my blog, until several of them actually started writing to me. Apparently they find my comments on the drug industry in general and Pfizer in particular quite helpful. I guess there aren't too many former Pfizer VP's analyzing Pfizer and issuing honest opinions independent of the company . . . nor do they usually get their advice out even before the Jim Cramer's of the world echo their comments.

Here's an e-mail from this morning:

We pick up your blog as part of an information provider called Collective Intellect( Your insights ahead of the PFE analyst meeting/annoucement were well received by many of our investing clients. We try to detect information that might influence securities pricing ahead of traditional media and traditional investment research. REDACTED
Thanks for your time.

REDACTED Securities Group
REDACTED Madison Avenue
3rd FL
New York, NY 10017

So, of course, I checked out Here's what they write about themselves:

New media is changing communications forever – are you using it to your business advantage?

Blogs, social networking sites, message boards, web communities.

There’s a lot of conversations happening online every second, and some of them will directly impact your business. How can you possibly monitor all of those conversations? You can’t. You need to filter out the vast majority of useless content from the nuggets of relevant, credible content.

Whose opinions matter, what’s spam, what’s worth paying attention to? Perhaps more importantly, what can you act on now?

Collective Intellect offers a new model for relevant new media research, with specialized services for institutional investors and investment professionals as well as Fortune 1000 companies. We create technology that helps you monitor, listen and respond to the most important conversations happening in new media – in as close to real time as you can get.

And there you have it. The Dr. Peter Rost blog is now among the sources investors listen to, to make their decisions.

Secret Video from Pfizer HR Termination Training Meeting

Countdown has started for termination of Pfizer sales force.

Here is a super secret video smuggled out of an HR termination training meeting, embedding is disabled, so you have to go to YouTube to watch.

What many Pfizer reps WILL NOT be doing in January

There's always a bright side . . .

Hat tip, one of my faithful readers, SHELAFFSALOT.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Upset Pfizer Investors Posting on YouTube

Here is their creation, called "The Unexpected." (Translation).

"I love his wisdom."

Someone put my post Pfizer's shell game: Cuts 20% of sales force on Cafe Pharma's Pfizer board with the following comment:

I love his wisdom. I don't care what the Pfizer Blues say, this man is a visionary and knows the industry inside and out. He is Right On. Pfizer is using the layoffs as a way to distract the dried up Pipeline and to wear a mask to Wall Street. I knew I saw a Gleam in Kindler's eyes on his TV performance.

The Pharma Rep Whisperer

Friday, December 08, 2006

Pfizer Torcetrapib Class Action Lawsuit

Schoengold Sporn Laitman & Lometti, P.C. has announced that the firm has filed a class action lawsuit against Pfizer Inc.

The complaint alleges that defendants made materially false and misleading statements to artificially inflate the value of Pfizer stock. Specifically, it is alleged that beginning in July 2006, the defendants repeatedly touted the safety and effectiveness of torcetrapib.

Schoengold Sporn Laitman & Lometti alleges that "These statements were false and misleading when made because the defendants failed to disclose or indicate that they knew that the torcetrapib was having adverse affects on patients' health."

More info here.

CL Psych: "Peter Rost -- WOW."

In the wake of Pfizer's recent torcetrapib troubles, Dr. Peter Rost is really sticking it to Pfizer. His last paragraph is reproduced below in hope that you will read the entire post. It's that good.

"This development is more than a big set-back for Pfizer. It provides an unusual glimpse into a corporation caught with its pants down and its hubris exposed for the entire world to see. After all, there were plenty of warning signs, ignored by Pfizer’s present management. And there is perhaps only one person smiling right now. And that is Pfizer’s vice chairman, Karen Katen, forced out after her succession battle with Jeff Kindler. She had thirty years of experience in the drug industry."

Now get going to Rost's site! Dr. Peter Rost: What went wrong at Pfizer?

posted by CL Psych at 11:28 AM

Thank you Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry: A Closer Look!

What went wrong at Pfizer?

Pfizer announced a few days ago that they pulled the plug on torcetrapib, because the drug had sharply increased the death rate in a 15,000 patient trial. This was the drug that was going to save Pfizer when Lipitor, Pfizer’s $14 billion blockbuster anti-cholesterol medicine, goes off patent in 2010. To make matters worse, two days before canceling all further development, Pfizer’s CEO Jeff Kindler stated at a large meeting with 250 analysts that torcetrapib was “one of the most important developments in our generation.”

During the past week newspapers and analysts and scientists have had one question on their mind: How could something like that happen to the preeminent drug company in the world? How could the CEO of this powerful drug company be caught hyping a drug that was withdrawn only days later?

As a former Vice President of Pfizer, and based on my many years working in the drug industry, I may have some clues to what really happened.

First, let’s face it. A drug company such as Pfizer does not spend $800 million on clinical trials for a new drug without very good preliminary data that indicate that this drug has the potential to save a great number of lives. But you never really know what will happen until you start large scale phase III clinical trials. Pfizer did just that, and enrolled 15,000 patients.

Then the trouble began. First they discovered that while torcetrapib appeared to increase “good cholesterol” by about 60%, which is a good thing, it also increased blood pressure, which is a bad thing.

Pfizer’s research chief, Dr. John LaMattina, was according to the New York Times, “the company’s chief booster for torcetrapib” and he clearly staked his career and scientific reputation on this new drug, in spite of the bad news.

But, according to Forbes, “some researchers had always doubted torcetrapib, some savagely. Even doctors who tested the drug said it was a big gamble. Years before Pfizer's drug went into large-scale trials, some research suggested that drugs like it might actually do more harm than good. In particular, at least three published studies of people with gene mutations that the drug mimicked found unexpectedly higher rates of heart disease.”

John LaMattina, however, determined that it was in his and Pfizer’s best interest to contradict the critics and claim that torcetrapib was “the most important new development in cardiovascular medicine in years,” two days before the torcetrapib drug trial was abruptly halted.

And normally a research chief has an experienced CEO, who may not have the same personal investment in any particular drug, who can independently ask the tough questions.

Only this time Dr. LaMattina didn’t have such a boss.

Dr. LaMattina reports to Jeffrey Kindler, and Mr. Kindler has only four months experience as a drug company CEO and only five years of experience in the drug industry. And in those five years, Mr. Kindler never managed the business. He was in charge of the law department. In fact, Mr. Kindler has less experience in the drug industry than many of his product managers and sales representatives. And of course, that makes it hard to ask the tough questions.

What made matters even worse was that Jeff Kindler wanted to change how Pfizer was run. His predecessor, Dr. Hank McKinnell, had been forced out amid turmoil surrounding his compensation package and poor stock performance. Dr. McKinnell had also made himself impopular on the Street, and minimized his contacts with analysts. Mr. Kindler was going to change all that, create a new openness, and instead ended up embarrassed.

Of course, I do believe that Mr. Kindler is doing the right thing, when it comes to openness, but such openness has to be combined with actual know-how. So when market guru Jim Cramer after this debacle wrote, “Maybe they really are a bunch of jokers at Pfizer,” that certainly doesn’t bode well for this large corporation. And when Mr. Cramer piled it on the following day, saying that “there are three things Pfizer is good at” and then listed those things as, “issuing press releases, screaming at the media” and “blaming the system,” then, any investor would start getting seriously concerned. It probably doesn’t help that Mr. Cramer also billed Pfizer a “$25 bond with no upside.”

This development is more than a big set-back for Pfizer. It provides an unusual glimpse into a corporation caught with its pants down and its hubris exposed for the entire world to see. After all, there were plenty of warning signs, ignored by Pfizer’s present management. And there is perhaps only one person smiling right now. And that is Pfizer’s vice chairman, Karen Katen, forced out after her succession battle with Jeff Kindler. She had thirty years of experience in the drug industry.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Pharmaceutical Executive: Confessions of a Serial Whistleblower

Some time ago I was asked to write an article for Pharmaceutical Executive. This is a monthly magazine read by all . . . pharmaceutical executives. I was honored that they asked me, and I submitted a draft. But then they decided that my story was even more interesting than the story I had written. So here is the four-page article from the December issue of Pharmaceutical Executive. I am, of course, grateful, that this renowned industry magazine features my comments this way. After all, this is akin to the Wall Street Journal writing a supportive article about a foreign rebel on their front cover.

Confessions of a Serial Whistleblower

Dec 1, 2006
Pharmaceutical Executive

Peter Rost, former Pfizer executive turned whistleblower, isn't just at war with his old employer. He's crusading against all of pharma, an industry he likens to the mob.

Interview by Joanna Breitstein, Executive Editor

Before the conversation could get underway, Peter Rost plants a stake in the ground. "I'm not a crazy man," says Rost. "I just wanted to do my job well enough to one day run my own drug company."

Rost, author of The Whistleblower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman, was on his way up the corporate ladder. He began his career in medical advertising, eventually switching to an industry post at Wyeth, as managing director of the Nordic region, and then at Pharmacia, as vice president of endocrine marketing.

But along the way, Rost developed an itch that he couldn't help but scratch. Reluctantly—if you ask him—Rost filed not one but two qui tam suits: The first accused Wyeth of a global scheme to evade taxes. The second went after Pfizer, which acquired Pharmacia, for marketing its human growth therapy, Genotropin (somatropin), off-label.

Many find it easy to dismiss Rost and his allegations—including a federal judge in Massachusetts, who ruled in favor of Pfizer in August. But just as many are intrigued. Rost makes his opinions difficult to ignore. He's been outspoken on television and on his blog,, and in his recent book, The Whistleblower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman. Supporters—and for entertainment, even some detractors—are eating up his depictions of the the world's largest pharmaceutical company, corporate espionage, and of the consequences that befall whistleblowers—among other things, Rost is out of a job.

What did you learn from blowing the whistle on Pfizer?

Not to blow the whistle. Seriously. You should avoid it at any price because it simply isn't worth it—you really lose everything. Obviously, nobody's going to agree that they broke a law, so you have to expect that you'll spend at least the next five to 10 years in court. Unless you're independently wealthy, there is really no upside for you to blow the whistle.

It's exactly like the mob. I hate saying it, but when you're talking to the mob, you end up with a bullet in your head. When you're talking about the drug industry, you end up never working again. People don't want to interview you if you have ever been in the press with anything like this, even if it is just trying to do the right thing.

The reality is that justice delayed is justice denied. The system is completely broke and I would strongly advise against anyone trying to blow the whistle. There's just no point.

Didn't you already know that, having filed suit against Wyeth for tax evasion?

Based on my prior experience, the last thing I ever wanted to do was get myself into this kind of situation. If you've been in this situation once, you will run from it again, which I tried to do.

I wasn't like, 'Hey, let's make some money and file a complaint.' It was very much the opposite. I gave Pfizer every opportunity for a year and a half to do something about [correcting the illegal marketing practices surrounding Genotropin].

But I don't regret having filed [a qui tam suit against Pfizer]. There was this law that made the distribution of drugs for off-label purposes a felony, with a penalty of up to 10 years in jail. As the VP in charge, I was screwed. I had to do something.

You've very publicly taken on Pfizer. How has that affected the way you've been portrayed in the media?

Pfizer used about 20 lawyers and PR people to prepare for my termination. Then they terminated me when I was out of the country and couldn't respond very well to the press. Pfizer also said a number of things to the press that were completely untrue, and they did it in a very sophisticated manner.

The company put their charges into their own legal filing, which is a protected form of speech. That way, it was hard for me to claim libel. The legal filing contained information that was intended to make me look like I was trying to blackmail Pfizer and that I was a parasite on the case [meaning that the original source of the information about off-label promotion came from somewhere else]. The PR person of Pfizer even said to The New York Times that, since I was the VP, I was blowing the whistle on my own conduct.

It is Marketing 101. Number one, blame the whistleblower. Number two, make him look like a criminal and an idiot. That's how it works—it's just sad to see it played out.

How do you think the pharma industry can better handle whistleblowers?

I can't offer any advice because I don't think they are interested in dealing with whistleblowers in a forthright manner. I bring it back to the mob. It would be like saying, 'What advice would you give a mob boss for him to deal with a guy who rats on him?' It's the same thing.

Sadly, the thing is that pharma companies have all these manuals. Pfizer has the open-door policies. They have the Blue Book on ethics. I was so stupid, because I truly believed in those—and you know, I've been around for 20 years—but the manuals are not there to help the people. The manuals are there to hold up in court and say, "We have this manual. We promise to be ethical. We promise to have an open door. We promise that we won't retaliate [against whistleblowers]. That's our policy." But the policy doesn't protect employees. It is legal protection for the company.

You regularly voice your opinions about Pfizer and the drug industry on your blog. Have you created or tapped into a whistleblower underground?

I have had a lot of people contact me who have seen similar things [as I saw with Genotropin]. I also just published an entry on my blog from somebody else within Pfizer who had witnessed document destruction. And oh boy, you should see the activity that I have had on my blog from [Pfizer's law firm] Covington and Burling since then.

So how common are illegal marketing practices in the industry?

If we just look at the public record, virtually every one of the major drug companies has been convicted and paid primo civil fines to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. And we know that when it comes to violations of the law, that's only the tip of the iceberg. Not everybody's getting caught. The Justice Department is completely overwhelmed, and they only intervene in 10 to 20 percent of the cases—they just don't have the manpower. And this is the flipside: The chance of getting caught is pretty slim.

So I would say it is very, very common. And, in defense of the drug industry, I believe that most of the people I've worked with are good, hardworking, honest people trying to do the right thing. Companies can't know what every single employee is doing all the time. But when they do get caught and pay these fines, it's most often not because they had one renegade employee. It takes a lot to convict a pharmaceutical company.

Has increased scrutiny by OIG changed this environment?

It's a complete joke. Let's look at real life. If a company violates a law, the Office of the Inspector General of the Health and Human Services can't put the company in jail.

What they do is make a company sign a Corporate Integrity Agreement. So a company does something really bad, and they have to sign an agreement that says they will never do this bad thing again. Pfizer has signed two of those agreements and obviously, Pfizer blames the subsidiaries that they bought.

You have to read these agreements, which I have done with certain pleasure, because they're so ridiculous. You can promise anything you want in life, but if there are no consequences nobody cares. It's like kids. You tell them not to steal the candy, but if you don't do anything, they're going to continue to do it, right?

It's the same thing here because the consequences in these agreements are so little. You know, Pfizer had $2-billion in sales of Neurontin [gabapentin] per year, and they received a $400-million fine. If you do that, it's almost like you're saying, "Well, let's do more off-label marketing."

But the true penalty comes when the company is no longer allowed to sell their drugs to the government.

That's a very good point. But I'm not aware of it happening. It's all a game and I think once you get into it, you start to realize it. Just look at the Serono deal, where they paid $704 million for [inducing demand for the AIDS-wasting drug Serostim]. There was a ban placed on a subsidiary from selling to the government, but as Serono pointed out in the press release, that's not going to stop them from selling anything. The main company was not affected.

A Massachusetts US District Court recently dismissed your case against Pfizer. Why have you told reporters that you are happy about the decision?

Because the judge struck down what Pfizer had said to the press about me. The judge said I was not a parasite on their lawsuit—that I was the original source of the information [about Genotropin's off-label marketing], not Pfizer.

We had to overcome four hurdles to win, and we overcame three. The fourth hurdle, which we didn't overcome in this ruling, was essentially a technicality. This particular circuit requested a specific false claim on a specific patient to be submitted. That is a very tough hurdle to overcome, and quite frankly, if that would be applied to all false claims cases in the future, there will never be a drug company again convicted in the First Circuit.

Why is it difficult to show a specific claim?

We know that Pfizer has a database with all this information. But since the judge dismissed the case, which we will proceed with anyway, we can't subpoena them. But it's a catch 22. We are working on trying to get the claim, but how do you get that information? You need to get the patient's name and the diagnosis of somebody who has received a drug for off-label purposes, but HIPAA makes that very difficult.

What makes that a bit crazy is that other circuits have not applied that very stringent standard. My point is that most of the circuits allowed the cases to proceed without a specific patient record. This judge did what he had to do, but unless this is reversed, there will never again be a drug company convicted in the First Circuit under the False Claims Act, which obviously the drug companies would be jubilant about because then the whole act has been rendered impotent. So I can assure you, this is something all the drug company lawyers are watching extremely carefully right now.

Is there a bright side in all of this?

All this stuff that's going on with me, and in the industry in general [in terms of prosecution of companies], it's probably for the public good. This is simply going to be an ongoing process. I just wish I wasn't personally involved, quite frankly. But now that I am, I'm going to make sure I'm doing it in such a way that, hopefully, I do win. I'm going to do it in such a way that at least is entertaining.

No Censorship Here

The Whistleblower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman is an enticing read, full of water-cooler gossip. That, of course, struck a never with Pfizer, which asked the judge to issue "appropriate sanctions" against Rost that would prevent him from publishing a book that could potentially taint the jury pool in the Genotropin off-label case. Although the judge ultimately ruled in favor of Pfizer, he struck down the drug company's request to censor its opponent.

Dr. Peter Rost blog comment for Pfizer lawyers: Please note that there are a few factual errors in the article. That's not my fault. I didn't write the article. And of course, the book is an enticing read. No one has bought as many copies as the Pfizer lawyers . . . they had three copies on the conference table last time I saw them.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Cramer calls Pfizer a "$25 bond with no upside."

Jim Cramer just made his Pfizer comments on CNBC's "Stop Trading!" segment.

Cramer castigated Pfizer's management for what he called its "hype" of the torcetrapib cholesterol-regulating drug. Pfizer pulled development of the drug this weekend after study data showed users were dying more often than nonusers. Cramer questioned Pfizer's promotion of the drug, which he said the New York company likened to "the greatest thing since sliced bread."

"There are three things Pfizer is good at," Cramer said, calling the stock a "$25 bond with no upside." He said the three things are "issuing press releases, screaming at the media" and "blaming the system."

Luckily, "all three could come in handy" in the wake of the torcetrapib blowup, Cramer said, adding, "Pfizer, God love ya."

Funny how, what I've been saying for the past years, has now been picked up by one of the most popular market gurus. In fact, Jim Cramer has also started to echo my comments about former Pfizer CEO, Hank McKinnell. A few months ago he said "Hank constantly talked about how to fix health care. He always blamed the hospitals. In truth, he was instrumental in making it so the government spent more money on drugs than it had to, which left a lot less money for everything else. Meanwhile he, like Ray Gilmartin at Merck, turned his company into a giant marketing team with little innovation. "

Jim Cramer: "Maybe they really are a bunch of jokers at Pfizer"

Here's Jim Cramer's quote today, from The Street:

Maybe they really are a bunch of jokers at Pfizer (PFE - commentary - Cramer's Take - Rating). Either that, or their timing is just nightmarish.

I can't believe that two days after the company discussed a new cholesterol drug at its analyst day that they scrap it.

I know most people who peripherally follow this company may ask how one far-away drug could be so important. But frankly, I didn't see anything else at Pfizer that could make up for even a fraction of the lost revenues for Lipitor.

Jim Cramer contiues:

The truly nutty thing about all of this is that Pfizer's meeting last week now appears to be much ado about nothing, a manufactured guide-up that was really about one thing: Don't lose faith in Pfizer, we have this new cholesterol drug!

I panned Pfizer aggressively in these pages and the airwaves, in part because I just believe that companies with no real sales growth don't belong in peoples' portfolios. I was bombarded by people reminding me that Pfizer's about to launch this new drug that would save them.

Man, those critics must be quiet right now. As for me: as I said at the end of Confessions of a Street Addict: better to be lucky than good.

I can't help but think that Jim Cramer appears to agree with the post I wrote yesterday; Clueless Pfizer Executives.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

List of 300 key healthcare recruiters

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

Pharmagossip tells every "to be Pfired" employee to read my book asap.


He thinks chapter 3 in my book can help.

Very kind. Thank you, Insider.

Whistleblowers: Fired, silenced . . . and killed.

Whistleblowers are traitors. There is no question that this is what most corporations and government entities think. It doesn’t matter if the target is a private corporation, such as Enron with whistleblower Sherron Watkins, a government entity such as the FDA with whistleblower David Graham or an entire country, such as President Putin’s Russia, which former Russian KGB agent and whistleblower Alexander Litvinenko harshly criticized.

All these entities react the same way: Shut down the whistleblower. Fire him, silence him, or kill him, whatever it takes.

It is no secret that former Enron CEO Ken Lay immediately contacted his lawyers and tried to come up with a way to fire Sherron Watkins after she wrote an e-mail warning him that “I am incredibly nervous that we will implode in a wave of accounting scandals.”

It is also no secret that the FDA brass tried to shut down David Graham. Dr. Graham said, “Prior to my Senate testimony in mid-November of 2004, there was an orchestrated campaign by senior level FDA managers to intimidate me so that I would not testify before Congress.”

Dr. Graham explained that this intimidation took several forms. The FDA tried to stop an article he wrote for the Lancet; they contacted Senator Grassley's office and attempted to prevent him from calling Dr. Graham as a witness and his superiors even posed as whistleblowers and contacted Dr. Graham’s attorney and attempted to convince him that he should not represent Dr. Graham.

And as far as the ex-KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko goes, we all know by now that he was poisoned in the U.K. with deadly polonium-210, which is extremely hard to come by unless you own a nuclear reactor. In fact, Polonium 210 is highly radioactive and extremely toxic. By weight, it is 250 million times as toxic as cyanide. This means a particle smaller than a dust mote could be fatal if ingested or inhaled. Polonium 210 destroys the internal organs, and death is slow, painful and sure. There is no antidote. No one knows for sure if Russia did this, but most observers have concluded that another former spy, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin probably knows who did it.

And Putin certainly had the motive. Back in 1998 Litvinenko accused his security bosses of ordering the murder of Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky. The tycoon fled to Britain, where Litvinenko soon followed, supported by Berezovsky. It didn’t help Litvinenko that he continued to openly criticize Russia and started to investigate the death of Anna Politkovskaya, a Russian journalist who also had been very critical of Putin. And it doesn’t help Russian President Putin that his critics appear to die like flies around him. Not that this means Mr. Putin did anything. He may just be a lucky guy, who happens to have short-lived critics.

Most noticeable, however, is the Russian media’s reaction. The Putin-controlled Russian television networks reported that Mr. Litvinenko did not die of poison, but of "intrigues" in the Russian exile community in London. Mr. Litvinenko was, according to Russian television, "a pawn in a game that he did not understand."

Reality is that most people never get into a situation such as the one Sherron Watkins, David Graham or Alexander Livinenko found themselves in. Most people silently agree to do whatever their company bosses, party bosses or government tells them to do, and look the other way when things get ugly. Commit a few illegal accounting tricks, fine. Let the public die because drugs are unsafe, no problem. Kill a big-mouth oligarch, hey if you’re in the KGB, that’s what you do, right? This is a great strategy for survival but it is certainly not a path to bravery.

In fact, Senator Grassley has repeatedly stated, “Whistleblowers are American heroes.” I’d only add that they are heroes wherever they appear. And especially today, with more and more rampant corruption we need more such heroes.

Because, as Edmund Burke said, “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Pfizer's shell game: Cuts 20% of sales force

So the news is finally out, after months of speculation. Pfizer, the #1 drug company which started the arms race among pharmaceutical sales forces, is finally cutting back.

And they’re not cutting back lightly. 20% reduction is a huge change when it comes to the 11,000 sales people they have on board. Most doctors, however, probably won’t miss those displaced sales reps, since Pfizer also pioneered having multiple sales forces calling on the same doctor. So I guess the cutback means those docs will only get bagels once a day in the future.

And while this is a sad development for the people involved, it probably isn’t a bad development for patients. Less sales people means less hype. But let’s get real. 2,000 more or less sales people among around 100,000 in the entire sector isn’t going to make much of a difference.

The real difference may be that for the first time Pfizer is changing course, and since many of the smaller companies are simply trying to mimic what Pfizer is doing, they will feel they have the permission to do the same.

So careful disarmament appears to be underway in the drug business.

And here’s the part you may not read anywhere else, since most journalists really don’t know how a cutback such as this one affects a drug company.

The truth is, it doesn’t; not much anyway.

Here’s the deal. I’ve reviewed lots of sales force models, sales force restructuring scenarios, etc. And based on all the data we had, we found not only that more sales reps give a diminishing return, but we also found something else, which we didn't expect.

We learned that before that diminishing return hits home, there is a very wide flat area. What that means is that each new rep pretty much paid for himself; but he didn’t add much incremental revenue.

So the good news was that you didn’t have to be a rocket scientist when you organized a pharma sales force. A few thousand more or less really doesn’t make much of a difference. In the end, whichever size was used, they brought home about the same profit.

So why is Pfizer doing this?

For those of you who don’t know, Pfizer is trying to achieve annual savings of $4 billion by 2008.

2000 reps, with a salary cost of $100,000, plus car and a few other costs, probably no more than a total of $200,000 brings in a saving of about $400 million a year. That’s not exactly chicken shit, but it is less than 1% of Pfizer revenue and only about 3% of profit.

No major celebration from Wall Street in sight based on those cutbacks.

So, again, why is Pfizer doing this and why now?


On Thursday, November 30, 2006 at 10:00 AM EST, Pfizer will hold its 2006 Analyst Meeting. And they probably don’t have terrific news. So they want to show they can be tough. Instill confidence in the Wall Street types.

And that’s the reason they do this now.

After all, when Pfizer’s biggest new product, torcetrapib, which reduces cholesterol, turns out to actually raise blood pressure, well, then a mass-firing of sales reps may detract some of the attention from Pfizer’s dry pipeline.

But there is more. When we look back at the drug industry, ten years from now, we will probably recognize that this was the turning point, when an entire industry started seriously contracting. So if you own drug company stocks, watch out. The worst may yet come.

Court decision: Blogging is a trade and bloggers are journalists.

Blogging is such a new word that if you start typing this in a Microsoft Office Word program, such as the one I used for this post, it shows up as misspelled.

In fact, many people probably still don’t know what a blogger or a blog is. At least that’s what Judge William J. McCarroll wrote in a recent decision.

The reason this judge got interested in blogging is that a blogger had been arrested when he covered a public protest. The public had stormed a public meeting and lots of people had been arrested, but not the journalists.

Apparently, the police didn’t buy the blogger’s story that he was really a journalist. But the judge did.

In his decision the judge wrote, “I believe it’s fair to say that the defendant was doing nothing wrong at the time he was approached by Sergeant Parks and placed under arrest. He was simply plying his trade, gathering photographs and information for his blog alongside other reporters.”

You can read his blog here.

What is important about this case is that here we finally have a legal precedent.

A blogger isn’t just a blogger.

He is, according to Judge William J. McCarroll, a journalist.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Pill

The world changed when “The Pill” arrived. Everyone talked about this event, and some people feared what this liberator would do to humanity. The amazing part is how those two innocuous words came to represent a human revolution.

Of course you know what I'm talking about; the birth control pill. Few products have been so debated and had such an impact on how we view ourselves. And the fact that these two non-descript words are understood by everyone demonstrates how truly revolutionary “The Pill” was.

But also a bit sad; I mean, you don't think about a pill that cures cancer when I write “The Pill.” You don't associate this with a vaccine that eradicates dangerous diseases. No, in fact, you don't associate this word with any drug that cures any disease.

So if nothing else, this shows what branding can do. And so, “The Pill,” has come to represent our sexual drive and the freedom to exercise that drive. Which initially made some uncomfortable and still do.

But like anything related to women, “The Pill,” hardly stands for equality. After all, women need to take the pill, which completely alters the hormonal balance in their bodies, and can lead to a range of side effects. Here are the warnings for one of the most common birth control pills:

The use of oral contraceptives is associated with increased risks of several serious conditions including myocardial infarction, thromboembolism, stroke, hepatic neoplasia, and gallbladder disease, although the risk of serious morbidity or mortality is very small in healthy women without underlying risk factors. The risk of morbidity and mortality increases significantly in the presence of other underlying risk factors such as hypertension, hyperlipidemias, obesity and diabetes.

Just sit back for a moment and think . . . do you think any man would risk any of this? And do you think he would feel comfortable having his sperms destroyed by a pill?

I don't think so.

Then again, he isn't the one who gets pregnant and has to live with the consequences of a mistake.

But the inequality doesn't end there.

In fact, we stick it to women more ways than one. Most of us know by now that drugs are on average twice as expensive in the U.S. as in Canada or Europe. But as far as “The Pill” goes, American women often have to pay ten times as much as European women. For the same pill.

But it doesn't stop with The Pill. When women are too old to have any use for “The Pill,” we have something else ready for them: HRT or hormone replacement therapy. Loaded with estrogen, to make the transition into menopause easier, and keep the skin smooth. With very few side-effects.

Only that turned out to be, well, not entirely true. Estrogen is still recommended for women with severe menopausal symptoms, however, when the National Institute of Health was forced to stop the Women's Health Initiative study prematurely, it taught us that what we think we know may not always be true. In fact, the results indicated that hormone replacement therapy appeared to increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer as well as heart disease, blood clots and stroke.

And of course, we also stick it to our menopausal American women. Again. HRT therapy is often ten times as expensive in the U.S. as in other countries.

American women; we want them to handle contraception with pills that may cause severe harm, we charge them ten times as much for this pleasure as we charge in other countries, and we make abortion more and more difficult to come by. And as the coupe de grace, we then convinced them to use HRT, to stay pretty and feel good, when, in fact, this was just hyperbole and may have led to an increase in heart attacks.

I'm only surprised that female coffins don't cost more than male coffins.

Friday, November 24, 2006


There is an interesting web site called MedChatter. This is a site which aggregates info from blogs in the medical and pharmaceutical area.

And what is interesting is that this site keeps track of all those blogs, and constantly displays most recent posts. But not only that, you can also find a ranking of most popular posts overall or in the last week or last 24 hours, based on how many have clicked on those posts.

Of course, you may wonder which ones are the most popular posts since this service started earlier this summer . . . so here's the list of the most popular blogs, overall, according to MedChatter:

Bristol-Myers CEO MUST be crying like a baby now! Feed:Dr Peter Rost

Dooce blogger Heather Armstrong Settles Lawsuit with Kensington Publishing Group Feed:Dr Peter Rost

Bye, bye Peter Dolan, hello Karen Katen??? Feed:Dr Peter Rost

One More Casualty at Pfizer Feed:Dr Peter Rost

An Exclusive Interview with Robert Connely, President and CEO of Novo Innovations Feed:HIStalk

Sanofi Aventis Bristol-Myers Squibb? Feed:Pharmagossip

Worst case of hemorrhoidal prolapse ever & PPH Feed:Unbounded Medicine

The Cost of Pfizer's Two Party Jets Feed:Dr Peter Rost

BMS - Plavix: looks like September 12th is D (for Dolan) Day Feed:Pharmagossip

BMS - Dolan's departure: the analysis begins Feed:Pharmagossip

Somebody over at Cafe Pharma appears close to a complete break-down . . . Feed:Dr Peter Rost

"Pfizer/Pharmacia and the Art of Firing People; Pfizer Moves to Block Rost’s Book (excerpt included)" Feed:Dr Peter Rost

Splenic Injury and Hemoperitoneum in Blunt Trauma Feed:Unbounded Medicine

Wyeth - Prempro: second trial starting in Philly Feed:Pharmagossip

More Pfizer Management Changes? Feed:Dr Peter Rost

BMS - Dolan's departure: the analysis begins Feed:Pharmagossip

"Pfizer Cuts Marketing Execs, Not Marketing" Feed:Dr Peter Rost

Pfizer: Too Big to Fly? Feed:Dr Peter Rost

Are GSK and Novartis considering a merger? Feed:Pharmagossip

The Mother of all Job Search Videos . . . Not. Feed:Dr Peter Rost

How To Safely Select Hospital Clinical Software – Lessons from the Past. Feed:Australian Health Information Technology

Am I Clairvoyant or What? Feed:Dr Peter Rost

BMS - Dolan may need an office collection Feed:Pharmagossip

Sanofi Aventis Bristol-Myers Squibb? Feed:Pharmagossip

The Doctor is More Important than the Pill Feed:Clinical Psychiatry Blog

Retail Clinics, Mobile Diagnostic Busses, and Jurassic Park by Nick Jacobs Feed:Hospital Impact

Peritoneal Lavage [Flickr] Feed:Unbounded Medicine

Ronald Green, Famous Lawyer for Pfizer Caught Lying in Court Feed:Dr Peter Rost

Gallstone Ileus Feed:Unbounded Medicine