Monday, June 30, 2008

Breaking news: Pfizer gains FDA approval for pet antibiotic.

Things are really turning around for Pfizer. Stock is jumping and reaching a super high of $17.50 versus 52 week low of $17.12, which was also a record low for the last 12 years.

The good news is that Pfizer Inc. said today the Food and Drug Administration approved a new antibiotic for cats and dogs, Convenia, a one-time injection which provides up to 14 days of antibiotic treatment for common skin infections.

Pfizer said Convenia is an improvement over current oral antibiotics which must be given several times a day for weeks at a time. The injection must be administered by a veterinarian.

The people at Pfizer are celebrating. A real, new drug!

LOL: Schering-Plough CEO admits he "doesn't know" what it takes to get new drug approved!

Fresh from the front cover of the WSJ today:

"What will it take to get new drugs approved?" Mr. Hassan asks. "The point is, we don't know."

Ehh, perhaps Mr. Hassan should step aside and let someone who knows run Schering-Plough?

Pretty amazing whining by a guy paid $30 million per year to get new drugs approved.

SOMEONE likes this blog . . .

. . . according to a post on Cafe Pharma.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

CBS News: Drug companies pay doctors $57 billions per year.

And Senator Grassley is investigating . . . he wants any payment to doctors above $500 to be available on a public web site.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More from Icahn. This is simply brilliant.

About CEOs – Anti Darwinian Metaphor – Survival of the Unfittest
Posted by Carl Icahn June 16, 2008 : 8:15 PM

The following is a metaphor I use. While it is slightly facetious, there is much truth to it. But keep in mind, there are many CEOs, even some I have sparred with, that are exceptions. Often, their companies are undervalued not necessarily because of them but because there are restructuring opportunities that their boards stand in the way of. CEOs that I have interacted with like Dick Parsons from Time Warner, Jim Kinnear from Texaco, David Roderick from U.S. Steel, Bob Rossiter from Lear, and Bill Fatt from Fairmont among others … do not fit the following metaphor. But unfortunately, there are too many CEOs in this country that the following does pertain to.

Anti Darwinian Metaphor

The way CEOs become CEOs in America is a travesty. This is one of our major problems. I use the anti - Darwinian metaphor. The survival of the unfittest.

If you remember if you were in college the fraternity president was always there for you. When you had nothing to do or when you were a little depressed. Feeling down. You go to the club and the fraternity president would always be there. You wondered when he had time to study which he probably didn’t do very much of in school. He was there to sympathize with you if your girlfriend didn’t show up or didn’t call you back and you obviously sort of liked the guy because the fraternity president was usually a likeable guy.

When the elections came up you would always vote for him. He had a couple qualities - the fraternity president. Politically, he was a survivor and he never made many waves. He did not promote controversy. Therefore when he went out into corporate America he was able to move up the ladder fairly quickly. Remember he survived, he didn’t make waves, and he wasn’t a threat. He kept moving up and up.

Eventually he becomes the assistant to the CEO. The CEO had the same qualities. He’s a survivor. He’d never employ anyone underneath him who might be a threat. The boards like these guys… this type of CEO. The boards generally don’t own any stock (another problem with our system). The boards don’t really care to hold CEOs accountable. Remember it’s a symbiotic relationship. These guys pay the boards very well – they give the boards perks. The boards don’t care to hold them accountable because that might endanger the perks they love so much.

When the CEO retires the assistant becomes the CEO. And remember what I told you. He’s a survivor. He would never have anyone underneath him as his assistant that’s brighter than he is because that might constitute a threat. So therefore, with many exceptions, we have CEOs becoming dumber and dumber and dumber. We can all see where this is going. It would almost be funny if it wasn’t such a threat to our ability to compete and to our economy in

Carl Icahn: He's got something to say . . .

The corporate raider and multibillionaire is fed up with corporate America. So he did what any reasonable person would do . . . he started a blog, "The Icahn Report."

You just gotta luv a billionaire who does that and writes this:

Recently, there has been a great deal of outrage concerning the huge pay and severance packages awarded to a number of CEOs. There has been much criticism of the fact that CEOs earn 520 times that of the average worker. A great deal has been made of the scandalous actions of a number of CEOs and boards concerning the backdating of options. Sadly, a much deeper, more pernicious, more threatening problem of the future of our economy exists at today’s corporations: many corporate boards and managers are doing an abysmal job. The lack of competent leadership makes our companies less competitive day by day, causing an upward spiraling trade and current account deficit, as well as a near meltdown of the financial sector. The buildup of incompetent boards and managers is the result of poor corporate governance. Poor corporate governance now threatens more than just potential shareholder value; it threatens this country’s very economic survival.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, "democracy might not be the greatest system there is but it is the greatest system mankind has invented so far." Many American corporations are dysfunctional because corporate democracy is a myth in the United States. They run like a decaying socialistic state. Our boards and CEOs exist in a symbiotic relationship where the boards nourish the CEO with massive stock options that are re-priced downward if the companies stock declines - making them forever valuable. They reward the CEO with pay packages and bonuses when the stock is floundering or the CEO is leaving the company. Corporate performance and the shareholders welfare seldom enter the picture. What kind of democracy is this? There is no accountability.

The inherent quid pro quo is to pay the board huge retainers for attending several meetings per year and rubber stamp ill conceived CEO proposals. In turn, a CEO can fly around the world on the company’s private jet on the "business" of visiting all the world’s greatest golf courses while he runs the company – and the value of your stock – into the ground. The average shareholder can do nothing about it. A great example is the subprime mortgage mess that has cost our economy and the populace untold billions of dollars and personal hardship. These losses did not stop boards from awarding huge severance packages to the CEOs most responsible for the current carnage.

It is the board’s responsibility to hold a CEO accountable, and remove the CEO if he or she is not producing results. But exacting such a measure requires effort and strategic consideration, and boards are often too lazy and/or passive to rock the boat, especially since the company will continue to pay and pamper and even indemnify them under almost any circumstances. Board members receive expensive tickets to important sporting events, the theatre, and are also treated to use of the company’s fleet. Worst of all, the board itself is not made accountable because corporate board elections are generally a joke.

Board meetings are often a complete travesty. I know because I have sat and do sit on a number of boards where I am in the minority. Because of this, today our economy is in a major crisis. Many of our companies are incapable of competing. Additionally our banking system has issued mortgages that cannot and will not be paid back. We are in this situation because there is no leadership in the executive suite. Why did we get here? Because in corporate America there are no true elections. It is tyranny parading as democracy. It’s a poison running through the blood of corporate America. Perhaps, with enough public support, the lawmakers and regulators will take note.

When you rid a company of a fruitless board, the rewards are often enormous because the underlying company and its employees can be excellent. It is the top level management that hangs like an albatross around the company’s neck. Years from now historians will marvel why we the shareholders – the legitimate owners of companies – did not do something effective about removing terrible managements. We can do something about the current situation. I will discuss in future entries how simple it can be and what has constrained us from taking action.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

George Carlin: The seven forbidden words

This is my excuse: The New York Times wrote about them in Carlin's obituary, without mentioning them. So I had to find out. As we all know, if the New York Times wrote about something, Pfizer's lawyers can't use it against me in court. At least that's what I'd tell the jury.

By the way, this is what Carlin said about dead people . . .

Terry Vater . . . the guy who won $1 million and went on to make a ton more . . .

An islamic Marilyn Monroe moment.

And the guy can't stop looking . . .

Monday, June 23, 2008

RIP George Carlin: If he was wrong, he is in deep trouble right now . . .

Some people love him, some don't know about him . . . here's a few of his best:

Carlin on flying:

Carlin on voting:

Carlin on saving the planet:

Carlin on religion (and if he's wrong, that's the reason he's in deep sh-t right now):

Carlin on the Ten Commandments:

Carlin on the owners of America:

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008

Guernica: An interview with Peter Rost

June 2008

An interview with Peter Rost

Four years ago, Peter Rost was vice president of marketing at Pfizer, the world's largest drug company, when he posted a book review on The review was for Dr. Marcia Angell’s The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What To Do About It. Rost wrote: "Drug companies are their own worst enemies. They have antagonized grannies all over ... with their work to stop reimportation of cheaper drugs into the US, a practice that has been in place for many years in Europe."

The review changed Rost's life. USA Today was the first to take notice. A slew of newspaper stories were followed by appearances on 60 Minutes and before Congress, where he attacked the drug industry’s claim that re-importation (buying less expensive pharmaceuticals from other countries) was unsafe. But it wasn’t just controversial practices like re-importation that Rost began speaking out against. He also spoke out about illegal practices, filing Qui-Tam suits (also known as False Claims or "whistleblower" suits) against Pfizer for the off-label marketing of Genotropin, a human growth hormone, and Wyeth, his previous employer, where he alleged tax fraud.

In just months, Rost went from anonymous corporate executive to Big Pharma’s number one whistleblower. But his speaking out proved to be an act of self-immolation, banishing him from an industry he had worked in for almost 20 years. According to Rost, Pfizer retaliated by removing all of his responsibilities and isolating him before finally cutting him loose six months after his 60 Minutes segment aired—which prompted Rost to file another suit, this one for wrongful termination. Jobless, Rost turned to writing.

In 2006, he published the first of two books critical of the pharmaceutical industry. The Whistleblower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman was an autobiographical expose that recounted Rost's days at Pfizer and his attempts to speak out against the illegal and unethical behavior he says he witnessed there. In 2007, he released Killer Drug, a novel about a fictional drug company called Xenal, which develops a biological weapon for the military. He also keeps a blog and has done stints as a blogger/columnist for both The Huffington Post and Brandweek. And he recently launched another career as a litigation consultant on drug marketing issues. While Rost's critics have attached selfish motives to his whistleblowing—he seeks to make a fortune through litigation, he's a publicity hound—his allegations continue to be proven true. One industry insider summed him up this way: "Rost is a bit of a carnival act, but he's not a liar."

—Jake Whitney for Guernica

Guernica: Take us through your last days at Pfizer.

Peter Rost: Well, Pfizer kept me isolated—there were literally construction crews tearing down walls around me—and they told me that I didn’t have any formal responsibility. Nobody at all contacted me except an occasional lawyer or HR person who would tell me I had nothing to do. I was outside the country at a drug reimportation seminar in Costa Rica when the NY Times and other news organizations called and asked for a comment. I didn’t know what they were talking about. It turned out I had finally been fired but Pfizer hadn’t been able to find me. That happened November 30, 2005. When I got home there was an envelope from Pfizer taped to my front door. So somebody from Pfizer had been here. That’s when I started speaking out more and talking about what had been going in Pharmacia and Pfizer. Prior to that I had only spoken about reimportation in general. I hadn’t spoken about anything specific going on inside Pharmacia/Pfizer.

Guernica: By speaking out, you mean publicly? Because you had already filed a Qui Tam suit while you were with Pharmacia.

Peter Rost: Yeah. I had filed the suit after I had informed [Pfizer management] about different issues on several occasions and they were either not receptive or they ignored me. Pfizer managed to get the suit dismissed initially—a year and a half or two years ago. Then we appealed and won. I think we have a very good chance of prevailing and the suit proceeding ahead. We have already been partly proven right since Pfizer was forced to pay a $34 million fine in April 2007. They plead guilty to illegal marketing the way I had described it, which was quite nice because they had basically been telling the world that I was bullshitting. So they plead guilty to illegal marketing, but not that the government would have been fraudulently paying false claims. That’s the other part of this litigation and that’s what we’re moving forward with. We’re also moving forward with the wrongful termination suit.

"Only an idiot would want to lose a base pay of $250,000-plus per year in order to maybe "win" a lawsuit that will almost always only pay dimes on the dollar..."

Guernica: Your critics accuse you of being a publicity hound. They say these lawsuits—and your whistleblowing, in general—have been more about seeking fame and big financial settlements than helping people. What do you say to them?

Peter Rost: My critics are idiots. Only an idiot would want to lose a base pay of $250,000-plus per year in order to maybe "win" a lawsuit that will almost always only pay dimes on the dollar versus real losses many, many years later. Pfizer can easily drag out the entire process for close to a decade even if, and when, I win. You gotta be real dumb if you get into that voluntarily. As for "fame" and being a "publicity hound," I didn't really have a choice when Pfizer called 60 Minutes, The New York Times, and the others to tell them that they'd fired me. Normally people in litigation stay mum, because that's good legal strategy; in this case I was forced to respond. Before that I did speak out about reimportation, and funny thing is perhaps it has had an impact. Pfizer's CEO is now a die-hard democrat and the republican presidential candidate wants reimportation. It only took me four years to be right on that one!

Guernica: At the end of The Whistleblower, you offer an extensive list of recent drug company corruption. It’s a surprisingly large list. What do you think it is about this industry that makes companies break the law so often?

Peter Rost: I think, number one, because it is highly regulated, so there are lots of laws that can potentially be broken. And I think it’s an industry that... I’m not sure if it’s an industry that’s more corrupt than other industries, but there is more regulation and there is a higher price when something untoward happens. When somebody cheats in this industry, lots of people die. If somebody cheats in another industry, you’ll get a product malfunction or whatever; but you don’t normally have disastrous consequences. So that means there is probably more focus on these issues in this particular industry.

Guernica: As there should be...

Peter Rost: As there should be, absolutely. I think we’re still seeing just a tiny percentage of crimes being prosecuted. We’re seeing just the really easy cases. If you look at the statistics in terms of what really brings in the big bucks to the government—which is the False Claims Act, or Qui Tam cases—the government only intervenes in something like 10 or 15 percent of them. In the cases where the government doesn’t intervene, about 90 percent of them fade away. Whereas in 90 percent of the cases when the government intervenes they do recoup a penalty. But I think it’s clear that Congress is not all that interested in expanding the resources to fighting this. Because, of course, you have the same companies giving campaign contributions to these politicians. So in a way, it’s like the old Russia; where the Russians used to say: "You pretend to pay us and we’ll pretend to work." Here it’s like, "We pretend to chase you, and you pretend to follow the laws." It’s the same thing; it’s a game. A significant part is for show.

Guernica: Also in The Whistleblower, you have a chapter called "Sexual Liasons." In it you discuss rumors of sexual affairs among Pfizer management, which you say you heard about through colleagues and former Pfizer employees. Given the serious issues that you were trying to draw attention to by your speaking out—reimportation, illegal marketing, tax fraud—why did you include a chapter that some might consider petty or beside-the-point?

Peter Rost: These issues, if true, could be an indication of violations of company policy. Consider that the Boeing CEO was fired for the same alleged policy violations and that several other CEO's have also been impacted or terminated, so this is not petty or beside-the-point; it is serious.

At a minimum, the fact that these issues were brought up repeatedly by Pfizer employees show a serious internal disrespect for management. Please also note that virtually no one from Pfizer management at the time these allegations were made remains with the company today, four years later.

"It is scary how many similarities there are between this industry and the mob."

Guernica: You’ve described the pharmaceutical industry as mob-like. What did you mean by that?

Peter Rost: It is scary how many similarities there are between this industry and the mob. The mob makes obscene amounts of money, as does this industry. The side effects of organized crime are killings and deaths, and the side effects are the same in this industry. The mob bribes politicians and others, and so does the drug industry—which has been proven in different cases. You could go though a 10-point list discussing similarities between the two. The difference is, all these people in the drug industry look upon themselves—well, I’d say 99 percent, anyway—look upon themselves as law-abiding citizens, not as citizens who would ever rob a bank. Not as citizens who would ever go out and shoplift. And the individuals who run these companies would probably not do such things. However, when they get together as a group and manage these corporations, something seems to happen. Just look at all of these billion-dollar fines—Schering Plough, I think is in the lead now with $1.2 or $1.3 billion in fines; and number two is Bristol-Myers Squibb. It’s pretty scary that they’re committing crimes that cause [the government] to levy those enormous amounts of fines against them. So there’s something that happens to otherwise good citizens when they are part of a corporation. It’s almost like when you have war atrocities; people do things they don’t think they’re capable of. When you’re in a group, people can do things they otherwise wouldn’t, because the group can validate what you’re doing as okay.

Guernica: Do you think this kind of groupthink is more prevalent in the pharmaceutical industry?

Peter Rost: It’s hard to tell. I’ve only worked in the drug industry so I don’t know about the others. But it’s been the drug industry and the defense industry that have been getting hit with the most fines. But it is mainly the drug industry today. I think there are so many things one could do wrong—opportunities for one to cheat—in the drug industry. You know, if you build a car and you cut corners, you’re going to have a bad-quality car and the Japanese are going to take away your market. But in the drug industry, that’s not how it works. You get a situation like the ENHANCE trial with Schering Plough [The ENHANCE trial was supposed to show that Schering Plough’s cholesterol-lowering drug Vytorin, which is made up of both Zocor and Zetia, was better at reducing plaque in the arteries than Zetia alone. But, after an infamous two-year delay, the results ended up showing just the opposite]. The only thing that happened there was that Fred Hassan [CEO of Schering Plough] made a $13 million bonus that he wouldn’t have received if he released the data earlier. So, for the individual managers, there is very little downside to cheating.

Guernica: You said one similarity between the drug industry and the mob was that in both the side effects are "killings and deaths." As that pertains to the drug industry, I’m assuming you mean in unintentional deaths resulting from unforeseen side effects—unlike the mob, which intentionally kills people.

Peter Rost: Clearly, the drug industry doesn’t want to kill people. But at the same time, I’m not sure if it’s always completely unintentional. Yeah, they don’t want to kill people because it’s bad for business, right. But if you look at a number of these cases where people inside the company knew they had problems. If you look at Merck with Vioxx, for example; if you look at Bayer and the lipid-lowering drug they had that caused liver failure, Baycol. Those guys knew that these drugs were causing major problems. And they knew these problems resulted in serious side effects, including death. Yet they kept on selling the drugs. So is that intentional or not?

Guernica: In your 2007 book, Killer Drug, you have a character named Torrance who’s the head of security at a fictional drug company called Xenal. Torrance is an extremely shady character who won’t hesitate to murder enemies of the company. The book is a novel, of course, but did you come across anyone in your career who gave you the feeling that he could possibly act like Torrance?

Peter Rost: The book is fiction. But it is using some of what I’ve seen and experienced, and taking some of the different people and putting them in a thriller environment. I’m not aware of individuals conducting themselves the way Torrance does. At the same time, I am aware that the kind of background he has is very common in the drug industry for someone who is heading up security. Pfizer has a former FBI agent, John Theriault, heading up its security department. And he has lots of law enforcement officers working under him. We have to recognize that these big companies are all building small paramilitary organizations inside the companies that answer to no one except the company itself. Look at Hewlett Packard, how they abused security consultants by getting phone records and information about journalists... and you know we only know a tiny fraction about what really happens—we only find out when these companies happen to get caught. It shows that there aren’t really any limits to what big companies—in the drug industry and others—will do.

Guernica: You look at movies like The Constant Gardener and The Fugitive, which have drug companies as villains, and then there’s Killer Drug. Why does this industry have such a bad reputation?

Peter Rost: It is unnerving, especially considering how important the industry is. You look at how these companies have behaved. Usually they transform to do whatever is best for the company. The chemical company that made the poison gas used in the concentration chambers, Zyklon B, became a drug company. They are now trying to disavow that as part of their heritage. IG Farben was the company. And one of their subsidiaries became a couple of the German drug companies—Bayer and some others. They now claim that they weren’t actually the legal entity, so there is debate over it, but I believe they paid some money to the victims. So most of these companies are going to do whatever it takes to survive under their current political management: If it’s democracy fine; if it’s not democracy, they’re going to play along. It’s very amoral.

Guernica: What specific industry changes would you like to see? Should anything be done about the way drugs in this country are tested? For instance, I understand new drugs only have to be proven more effective than placebos, not more effective than existing drugs. Should that be changed? And how do you feel about TV drug ads?

Peter Rost: In Europe, new drugs are generally tested against existing drugs. TV drug ads, the direct-to-consumer ads, I was originally in favor of, but now I think the reality is that they’re a disservice to consumers. As far as changing the industry, quite frankly I’m pretty cynical. You get new regulations, you get new rules, but then you get the same type of behavior again and again. Yes, fines and deterrents work because companies don’t want to be embarrassed. But I’m not sure how much will really change. I read a book by a whistle-blower at Roche, Roche Versus Adams by Stanley Adams. It was chilling, because many of the same things that I have revealed about fraud within these companies, and other ways they operate: it was the same stuff, the same things, and the book was written 25 years ago. When I read the book, I was like, "You know what; nothing much really changes." Thirty years from now people will be having the same discussions you and I are having today. I do think the press can change things, to an extent. That’s pretty much the only way. But then again, I read this book and I thought, "Things aren’t changing very much."

"We have to recognize that these big companies are all building small paramilitary organizations inside the companies that answer to no one except the company itself."

Guernica: You mentioned the direct-to-consumer ads—the TV drug ads—and you said you once were in favor of them but not anymore. Why?

Peter Rost: Basically I’m in favor of the free market, free information, letting people make their own decisions while minimizing any cumbersome regulations. But I think there is a reason doctors are the ones deciding treatments. And that is because they’ve had years of schooling. It certainly doesn’t help anyone to dump 30-second commercials on people who have no idea about anything they see in them and then they go to their doctors, who often give them any drug they want. That’s how we got the Vioxx debacle. In other countries it wasn’t as bad. [Only the U.S. and New Zealand allow direct advertising of pharmaceuticals to consumers.] So these ads don’t really help patients. There was a study done that was published in the Washington Post a few years ago where they had actors going into doctors’ offices pretending to have depression. Most of the actors who pretended to have depression and asked for Paxil got it. But the scary part is that a lot of the actors who did not exhibit signs of depression but asked for Paxil also got it. The numbers were pretty scary.

Guernica: As a native of Sweden, you’ve had firsthand experience with two very different kinds of healthcare systems. Which works better?

Peter Rost: When I was a doctor in Sweden, I didn’t like socialized medicine. I thought it was terrible. I really did. Because of the big bureaucracy, the long lines for certain procedures; it's not really service-oriented. I just didn’t think it worked very well. And then I came over here and saw how things worked—or didn’t work. (Laughter.) And I saw it was even worse. So it’s really like choosing between two evils. But in the end, you just have to be a smart buyer. If you look at the costs of the US healthcare system—it’s two to three times as high per person as any other place in the Western world. It’s a complete waste of money. The US can have shoddy care and the US can have the best care in the world. It depends on things like where you go, whether you’re lucky or not, if you know what you’re doing, if you’re on the right HMO, and so on. The bureaucracy here is even worse than it is in the socialized systems, which are really unbureaucratic, comparatively speaking, when you try to deal with an HMO and getting claims approved and hospital billing systems; it’s just a mess. The movie Sicko describes it pretty accurately. Although I would add that Michael Moore sees things through rose-colored glasses when it comes to the British, French and Canadian systems. But yes, overall, we would be better off with universal healthcare.

Guernica: Do you think the US will ever move to a universal system?

Peter Rost: Not in the next 30 years. But you never know. Perhaps fifty years from now this system will simply come crashing down under its own weight. But considering the money that people can make here—from doctors to insurance companies to HMOs to hospitals—the way the political system works here, these groups have so much power, it’s going to be a very hard system to change.

Guernica: Does that mean you’d consider a move back to Europe, or do you plan to stay in the U.S. for the rest of your life?

Peter Rost: I will go wherever somebody gives me a decent job to do. I’m flexible.

Guernica: On that note, how has your transition to author/blogger/journalist/legal consultant worked out?

Peter Rost: Things have worked out relatively well. Basically, I’m trying to be as smart as I can about it. So far, the book sales have helped create some attention around what I've been trying to do lately [writing expert reports for law firms on pharmaceutical marketing issues]. And that has really generated interest from these law firms. There’s no question that in the U.S. working on the legal side of things offers a lot more money than book sales do. But books are a good promotional vehicle. So it all works together.

Guernica: Do you have any regrets about speaking out?

Peter Rost: Not really. It’s been quite entertaining to do this. You know, I could have simply blown the whistle internally and stayed quiet otherwise. But since I spoke up, I think more people may have learned about the issues involved. I guess you’ll have to ask me ten years from now if it was the right thing to do. (Laughter.) As far as the attention goes, the media is so fragmented now... quite frankly, the only time people ever recognized me on the street was for a few weeks after my 60 Minutes segment. Another reason I’m not very well known is because people in the US don’t read newspapers. I don’t think any of my neighbors get newspapers. People don’t read anything. They don’t even watch news these days. They watch football. Yes, everybody in the drug industry knows about me and the issues I’ve spoken about. But the general population, they have no idea what’s going on. So generally speaking, the attention has been fine. I was trying to get people to wake up about these issues. I figured I didn’t really have anything to lose. I had hoped to affect things internally and eventually move up into a position where I could create change and have an impact. I realized this was my last shot to do something. I can’t complain.

[The interview was not taped and Guernica has modified or shortened some quotes. Dr. Rost did not review any part of the article for accuracy before publication.]

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pfizer's Chantixgate: "Safety not supported by the data," according to ABC News contributor.

Following only a few months after Schering-Plough's Vytoringate, here comes Pfizer's Chantixgate, unfolding at a rapid pace, day-by-day:

According to ABC News, Dr. John Spangler, director of Tobacco Intervention Programs at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., questions the safety of Chantix. Spangler is a contributor to

Spangler as early as May 2007 raised questions over the adequacy of the long-term safety of Chantix. He raised concerns about heart and vision effects in people who took the drug for at least one year. He brought them to the attention of the medical community, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Pfizer, the company that manufactures the drug.

At the center of these concerns was a study that purported to record side-effects of the drug, also known as varenicline, when used for an entire year.

Spangler says the safety study by researchers employed by Pfizer and published in a relatively obscure medical journal looked at far too few subjects — a total of only 251 taking the drug — to determine whether or not the drug is safe when used over that duration.

Yet, the conclusion of the study reads, "Varenicline 1 mg BID can be safely administered for up to 1 year" — a conclusion, Spangler says, that is not supported by the data.

Story on ABC News.

US soldiers making themselves popular: Throwing grenade at sheep and crushing taxi.

Durex UK ad (it sure wouldn't run in US)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

McCain admits he doesn't know how to use a computer!

And he wants to be president?

How long will America put up with their oligarchs?

Today Pfizer Inc's stock price hits rock bottom $17.55

Unbelievable. Or maybe not. Pfizer's stock is setting new records every day--rock bottom records not seen in over ten years.

When will it crash below $17? No one knows, but we're only fifty cents away!

So what about those humongous CEO pays over the last decade, did they deserve it?

Did they do something special, like Hanky boy McKinnell who took off with $200 mill in his knapsack. Did he deserve it?

Well, if he and the others did, they should have done something unique, that did set their companies apart.

Did they?

Nope, they all rode the same way up:

And now they're riding the same wave down.

Not one iota of difference between these companies, nothing the CEOs did that set any one of these companies apart.

Simply the mass efforts of thousands of hard-working scientists, sales reps and marketing people. And one guy who took the credit at each company.

So when the stock went up, all those self-important CEOs felt they deserved whatever they could lay their littly chubby hands on.

And now when their ships are going down, they still feel they deserve it, in order to keep themselves "motivated."

Capitalism has turned into a rigged shell-game, with the CEO the new self appointed aristocracy.
What did the French say?


Chop, chop.

Putin's Russia is looking better by the day. At least he's throwing some of the biggest oligarchs in jail.

How long will Americans put up with their oligarchs?

Got puppy? Buy robot!

This is how much fun you can have . . .

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Not a joke: Vicks VapoRub might help fight toenail fungus.

Applying Vicks VapoRub to fungus-infected toenails can clear up this notoriously hard-to-treat condition.

Michigan State University clinicians found that applying the product daily to the infected nail cleared the condition in 32 of 85 patients, though it took anywhere from 5 to 16 months.

There is also extensive non-scientific support from beauty salons and dermatologists for this usage--check the net.

While the study had notable weaknesses, it nevertheless suggests that VapoRub’s efficacy may at least rival that of more costly, prescription topical medication.

Oral antifungal drugs are more effective, but they can cause serious side effects.

Further research is certainly needed, but meanwhile, the off-label use of VapoRub—or Meijer’s Medicated Chest Rub, which contains the same mix of eucalyptus, menthol, camphor, and other oils—is worth a try.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Danish newspapers just can't stop mocking Islam.

Click for full size.

Amazing stupidity. Please show this to your teenager.

Check out what happens to this guy's leg. - Watch more free videos

Woman marries Eiffel Tower

A woman with an unusual fetish for inanimate objects has married the Eiffel Tower.

Erika, 37, had an intimate ceremony in Paris, France in which she wed the landmark, watched by a small group of friends.

The woman has changed her name legally and is now known as Erika La Tour Eiffel.

Erika has a condition called Objectum-Sexuality or objectophilia which is feelings of love, arousal, attraction and commitment for an inanimate object.

Another woman, Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer has the same condition and has been "married" to the Berlin Wall for almost 30 years.

Erika says she too is fond of the Berlin Wall. She also says her first infatuation was with Lance, a bow, and she also says she has an intimate relationship with a piece of fence she keeps in her bedroom.

"I just don't understand how some people can bring someone into the world like a child - an object - and then not love them," Erika says.

John McCain RAW

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Kindler's secret plan for Pfizer Inc: Get the stock below $14.

So I heard this on the street . . . Kindler's secret plan for Pfizer is not to get the stock up . . . that's virtually impossible, and he knows it.

Solution: Drive the stock down to below $14, enough to get the sharks circling, then accept a take-over offer for $22, and cash in all executive management parachutes.

You heard it here first.

Bad day in the office.

From Russia, with not so much love:

Wonder if this is for real? Here's with sound . . .

Top ten messages left on Obama's answering machine

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Pfizer closes at another record low: $18.80

So the Big Blue is down below $19. That's a level not seen since mid-1997.

This is all as I've predicted.

The only ones continuing to make out well will be Pfizer management.

Even a half dead horse can provide a lot of blood for a swarm of mosquitos.

Scam electronics stores on the net.

So I tried to buy a camera on the net. But instead of going through Amazon, I did one of those searches that give you the very cheapest price . . . and I rapidly learned why some places can undersell everyone else--you'll never get the equipment to the advertised price, since they'll do a bait and switch:

After placing an order on-line, consumers receive an e-mail instructing them to call the company to "confirm" their order. Once on the phone, sales representatives try to sell consumers extra batteries, accessories, and warranties, some of which are included with the camera. When consumers decline, their order is cancelled or they are told that their item is not in stock.

A couple of examples of scam artists are

Broadway Photo and 86th Street Photo and Video -- clicking on the links will take you to the site "" and you'll see exactly what happened to me and a thousand others.

It is pretty amazing that the state of New York doesn't shut down this scam operators.

Shame on New York.

Here's a BBB report . . . which of course hasn't shut down the scum preying on customers:

5/27/08 8:58 PM

New York BBB Reliability Report for

* This business has an unsatisfactory record with the BBB

Business Contact Information
Additional Business Names:

86th Street Photo & Video

My Wireless Deal

Wise Tronics

Y.E.S. International
2845 86th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11223
View Location Map

Original Business Start Date:

Shlomi Albaydadi, Owner
Phone Number:
(877) 678-8990
Additional Phone Numbers:
(718) 373-7820

Fax Number:
(718) 373-7822
Additional Websites:
Type of Business:
Electronic Equipment & Supplies-Dealers

This is NOT a BBB Accredited business

The information in this report has either been provided by the company, or has been compiled by the Bureau from other sources.
Nature of Business
Back To Top

According to complaints filed with the BBB, WiseTronics employs bait and switch sales tactics in order to sell more merchandise. After placing an order on-line, consumers receive an e-mail instructing them to call the company to "confirm" their order. Once on the phone, sales representatives try to sell consumers extra batteries, accessories, and warranties, some of which are included with the camera. When consumers decline, their order is cancelled or they are told that their item is not in stock.

Open letter from Pfizer Africa employees, accusing Pfizer of racism.

I just received the following letter, which based on content and detailed information appears to be genuine . . . I presume if any of the factual statements are incorrect Pfizer will post a comments to this post:

Dear Dr Rost

Pfizer employees of African origin in the Nigeria East Africa Region have watched the changes currently taking place in the regional business model and are aggrieved by the racial based decisions being implemented. The company is realigning its business model in the mentioned region and the realignment touches on personnel and distributors in the East Africa (regional offices in Kenya), Ghana markets and Nigeria is likely to follow.

Prior to the actual realignment being undertaken, a Regional Director of African decent (Ms Ngozi Edozien) was replaced by Enrico Liggeri a Manager of Italian origin who was in New York before his posting. Senior managers in the region were not considered at all for the position. Pfizer employees in the region are worried with this racial move. In the process two senior "African" managers (Mahmoud Mohamed a Kenyan in charge of East Africa and Yinka Subair a Nigerian in charge of Ghana and other W African markets) were retrenched. Business realignment was given as an excuse but racism was a strong factor in this realignment. A competent African Finance Director (Lanre Sanusi) based in Nigeria resigned after she saw what the racist schemers did to her two African colleagues. It is worth noting that the three African Managers (two retrenched and one resigned) are more competent than the person imposed on the region. However the imposition was done because of the new Manager's racial background. The racial architects of this move are the African Regional Director (Karl Lintel a Dutch Belgian based in New York) and Africa HR Director (Jolette Walters a white South African based in Johannesburg). Please reach to black employees in Pfizer South Africa to get more about racism in their office set up. Senior positions in Pfizer South Africa are only reserved for whites.

Another phase of the business realignment touched on change of the distributorship model. Laborex a French company that is relatively new in the markets of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ghana has just been given exclusive Pfizer distributorship in these markets. Established African distributors that have done a good job for and partnered well with Pfizer for a while have all been kicked out. It is not true to imply that the "right race" distributor was picked because indigenous African distributors are no good. In total six indigenous distributors have been kicked out in the four markets. The next move is to implement a similar change in Nigeria which is the largest market in the affected region. This has not happened yet because Laborex is not yet in Nigeria but their Pfizer racist friends are working closely with them to make sure it finally happens. Pfizer employees in Ghana were given the option of getting employed by Laborex or take a package and go home. We salute the patriots as 80% of them opted to leave Pfizer instead of being employed against their wishes by the "right race" distributor – Bravo the Ghanaian patriots. This deal has been forced on many of us and it is possible that Pfizer project leader has personally benefited from this lucrative business deal that Laborex was given on a silver platter.

Africans working with Pfizer in the Nigeria East Africa Region believe that they have no leadership future in the company. They will be suppressed and just remain as laborers to serve the racist managers who will be imposed on them. Apartheid is long gone in South Africa but just taking shape within Pfizer Africa.

Outside the racial angle, it is worth noting that Pfizer's commitment to Africa is minimal. Though senior management is likely to deny, the current realignment is related to the ongoing Trovan court case in Nigeria and the recent political instability in Kenya. Pfizer preaches about "Working for a Healthier World" but this just remains lip service as far as commitment to black Africa is concerned.

Concerned Pfizer Africans

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

"Pfizer directors worry the company's shares, now trading at a 10½-year low of $19.18, would plunge to $10 or $12."

Story in the Wall Street Journal.

My prediction: Jeff Kindler will be gone within five years, unless he makes another major acquisition.

And another one.

And another one . . .