Sunday, May 31, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
Time initially illustrated the quote with this image, then changed it to another one here . . .
Thursday, May 28, 2009
But a guy by the name of Jay McDonald has some advice, here it is:
You've sensed the black bunting and cruel gag gifts dead ahead, the cheerful semi-surprise party of well-meaning younger friends and commiserating older ones who, like you, have decidedly mixed feelings about hitting the big 5-0.
The very least that can be said in favor of reaching the half-century mark is that it carries less angst than the big 3-0, less sting than the big 4-0, and certainly beats the alternative.
After all, you've accomplished far more at this point in your life than at those previous traumatic milestones. Chances are you've found love and married (perhaps more than once), you've raised a family (perhaps more than one), you've settled on what you're going to do when you grow up, and you've probably cobbled together enough assets to make retirement a real possibility.
Love, family, financial security -- what's not to like about turning 50?
Well, the downside is that one of these mornings you're going to wake up and actually be staring at a 50-year-old in the mirror.
The big 5-0, as everyone who has hit it will tell you, is the physical milestone. Somebody cranks up the gravity, makes all the print tiny and turns your favorite foods against you. Your doctor becomes a nag. Your clothes start shrinking. And you forget, but not selectively anymore.
Any day now, that AARP card will arrive in the mail and you'll be officially old. But that doesn't mean you have to go gently into that good night -- not by a long shot. After all, you're a baby boomer. You were born to be wild.
Here are the top 10 things you need to do before you greet the big 5-0:
1. Get lost
Looking for a personal mantra as you prepare to tee off down life's back nine? How about this one: Habits kill. By now, you may have seen more of other parts of the world than you've actually seen of your own hometown because you've been a good little Pythagorean and mastered the straight line between A and B and never got beyond point C.
But now is the time to get lost, at least metaphorically. Take that road you've never taken. Go to work by bus instead of train. Or get really radical, and walk somewhere. Mix it up. And be sure not to plan too much. It takes all the fun out of it.
2. Use the good china
Who doesn't know the frustrating feeling of watching our parents or older relatives deny themselves the pleasure of using fine china, linen, silver and other great things in life? Don't go there.
If you've got the good stuff swaddled in bubble wrap, locked away for safekeeping or displayed in fine glass cabinetry, pull it all out right now. Find the orneriest 3-year-old available and together build a ridiculous lunch of peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches with SpaghettiOs on grandma's finest. You'll be grinning for days.
3. Visit the wonder window
Been a couple decades since your kids were born? Need a double shot of wonder with that latte grande? One of the best free shows on earth is available at the maternity ward of your local hospital. Just drop in and stand at the window.
There's a wonderful charge from being in the presence of newborns, especially when we're feeling the tug of our own mortality. If you are a parent, it can put you in touch with all the reasons you brought your own kids into this world in the first place. That's a pretty nice place to revisit.
4. Lose the locks
Anthropologists are trying to isolate the gene that makes human beings cling against all reason to the hairstyles they had when they bought their first car. What's sadder than a 40-year-old man with a mullet? A 50-year-old with a comb-over or a ponytail, that's what.
At 50, it's time to lose the locks. Guys, give your boyhood barber a farewell tip, find a stylist half your age and get short and modern. Ladies, the '70s called and they want their long hair back. Go bobbed, go gelled, go asymmetrical, go crazy, but go short. You both will look 10 years younger.
5. Treat a stranger to dinner
Let's say you've done pretty well in life, climbed the corporate ladder, made it to the top, love the view. Congratulations. Now what? Compassion for those who didn't catch the same breaks is a pretty good place to start the cool-down from your career marathon.
Try this: The next time you dine out, look for someone who is alone, perhaps sad or troubled or less fortunate than yourself, and surreptitiously pay their waiter for their meal, anonymously. It might make a difference in their life and it will certainly make a difference, for the better, in yours.
6. Upgrade your vices
In the spin-cycle of youth, you wallowed in the shallow end when it came to pursuits of pleasure. You saw Rocky Horror 36 times, traveled with the Dead for a summer (you think), drank anything with an alcohol content and played Trivial Pursuit until your mind turned to cottage cheese. It was easy to waste time when you had so much of it.
Now you need to be a little more selective. Upgrade your vices. Read great books. See great movies. Drink better wines. Catch a live concert, philharmonic this time, now and then and spring for good seats. And spend more time with people who make you laugh. You've had the rest, now go only for the best.
7. Meet the folks
No one can give you a clearer forecast of what's in store for the second half of your life than your parents. If you haven't done so already, make a point to meet the folks on an adult level. As 50 approaches, chances are you are noticing lots in common with them that you can use to open the door to new mature relationships.
It will do wonders for all of you. Ask them about anything and everything they've experienced. You'll need all the gory details, especially the health-related ones, they sheltered you from in your younger days so you'll be able to age like a fine wine instead of a sour grape.
8. Scare yourself
One of the advantages of launching your second childhood now is that you've still got the muscle tone and mobility to truly push the envelope, get the adrenalin roaring and flash-test the old circuitry without winding up in the ER.
What's the scariest thing you always wanted to try? Glacier skiing? Skydiving? Spelunking? Karaoke? Don't just dream about it, get out there and give it a go. Great cocktail stories often involve overcoming fear. Let this be your best one.
9. Get spontaneous
Remember those habits we earlier said are buzz killers? Well, those small, comfortably predictable action sequences actually do serve a purpose. They help guide us subconsciously through our daily existence. Without them, we would spend most of every morning just getting out of the house.
That said, after 50, most of our habits start to turn against us, for good reason: We are no longer the same person who formed them all those years ago. How to kick the ones we no longer need? Get spontaneous, right now. Seek new experiences, new technologies, new points of view, new possibilities. Pursue your bliss and let it guide you to new habits that will serve you better down the stretch.
10. Laugh more
Native American folklore says that the first question we ask upon dying is, "Why was I so serious?"
Life today is full of reasons to scowl, frown, sputter and fume, but you know what? That's just plain defeatism and it only makes you look and feel old. Find things that make you laugh and surround yourself with them.
Set laughter goals: laughing to tears daily; falling-down, rolling, pants-wetting hilarity once a week perhaps. Laughter is your tether to youth, an instant facelift, and the purest appreciation for what a cool ride this really is.
As I read this advice I'm starting to feel like I've been working on all this for the last ten year. Perhaps things won't be so bad after all . . .
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
WSJ on Health-Care Overhaul: "Ahead of these give-backs, they dramatically raise prices," Dr. Rost says. "They always do that."
Drug CEOs Switch Tactics on Reform
Pharmaceutical Companies Join Health-Care Overhaul, Hoping to Influence Where Costs Are Cut
By JONATHAN D. ROCKOFF
Drug-company executives are aiming to prevent steep cuts in prescription prices by joining the effort to overhaul the U.S. health-care system.
Their approach contrasts sharply with their behavior 15 years ago, when they helped defeat President Bill Clinton's reform efforts from the outside. "This is not the 1990s, when the industry was playing defense," says John Lechleiter, Eli Lilly & Co.'s chief executive. "We're playing offense. We're at the table."
The pharmaceutical executives are using their new access to try to steer lawmakers away from measures that could reduce drug margins, pressing instead for cost reductions by hospitals and insurers.
In their meetings at the White House and on Capitol Hill, as well as in speeches and op-ed articles, industry executives and lobbyists have backed such steps as shifting insurance coverage toward prevention, which could increase sales for heart, diabetes and other drugs that patients take long term.
AstraZeneca PLC Chief Executive David Brennan argues that prescription drugs account for "just about 10% of the overall cost" of health-care spending in the U.S. "That hasn't changed in 40 years," he says, "and right now that is going down."
Instead of worrying about drug prices, Mr. Brennan says that a health-care overhaul should tackle the insurance co-payments that he says deter patients from taking the drugs they need. Reforms, he adds, shouldn't force doctors and patients to choose a drug based on cost if the more expensive treatment would have a better outcome.
The pharmaceutical industry "has a strong interest in working the benefit-design side rather than the price side," says Dan Mendelson, president of Avalere Health, a consulting firm that keeps health-care companies, patient groups and medical foundations abreast of developments in Washington.
Pfizer Inc. Chief Executive Jeffrey Kindler says he backs "comprehensive health-care reform in this country" and is willing to make compromises. But he opposes a public insurance plan except for the poor who otherwise can't afford insurance, saying it would crowd out private insurers and take "the form of price controls" that fail to reward companies for their expensive and risky investments in drug development.
Of course, just extending health-insurance coverage to millions of uninsured Americans is likely to benefit drug makers. Les Funtleyder, an industry analyst at Miller Tabak & Co., estimates such a move could increase the $291 billion in annual U.S. prescription-drug sales by $15 billion to $18 billion.
To help accomplish their goals, the drug makers spent $47.4 million on lobbying in the first quarter, up 36% from a year earlier, according to company-disclosure reports filed with Congress and analyzed by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Pfizer Inc. more than doubled its spending on lobbying in the period to $6.1 million.
Earlier this month, drug makers joined doctors, insurers and hospitals in a pledge to rein in health-care cost increases by $2 trillion over the next decade. Merck & Co. Chief Executive Richard Clark, who attended the White House announcement, said that the company was "ready to do our part to achieve" an overhaul.
Nonetheless, the drug makers have been pushing through hefty price increases. Prices for many drugs were up more than 15% in the first quarter from a year earlier, according to data from Credit Suisse.
Pharmaceutical companies say the increases are fair and necessary as drugs mature, but analysts say the companies are trying to eke out as much revenue from the treatments as they can before patents expire and health-care reform drives down prices.
Peter Rost, a former marketing executive at Pfizer who is now an industry critic, says the increases are a way to soften the impact of future price cuts. "Ahead of these give-backs, they dramatically raise prices," Dr. Rost says. "They always do that."
Meanwhile, drug-industry executives worry that an overhaul of the health-care system could lead to too much government intervention. In addition to possibly establishing a government-sponsored insurance plan, lawmakers might give Medicare -- the existing public program for the elderly and disabled -- the authority to negotiate the prices for drugs dispensed through its Part D benefit. That could limit the prices pharmaceutical companies can charge.
Pharmaceutical executives argue that such steps would hamper drug makers' ability to pay for costly research into new treatments. "It would knock our legs out," says Lilly's Dr. Lechleiter.
Linda Douglass, a spokeswoman for the Obama administration, says the administration isn't negotiating with drug companies or other health-care industries. Rather, it is focused on working with lawmakers who are writing legislation and trying to figure out such issues as how to finance an overhaul. Allowing Medicare to negotiate the price of drugs dispensed through the Part D program, for example, "just hasn't come up yet," she says.
But she praises the drug industry for wanting to play a role. The major components of the health-care industry, including pharmaceutical companies, "are agreeing we can no longer live with the status quo, and I can't emphasize enough how important that is because it wasn't that way 15 years ago," she says.
Write to Jonathan D. Rockoff at firstname.lastname@example.org
Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page B1
Sunday, May 24, 2009
And here is Kevin Nalty, Merck’s consumer product director for Propecia, saying his goodbye from Merck..
BNet writes: Merck Exec Quits After YouTube Gross-Out Video Got Too Much Negative Attention
Saturday, May 23, 2009
EXPERT WITNESS: DECEPTIVE OR ILLEGAL MARKETING AND SELLING ACTIVITIES, FAILURE TO TRAIN, SUPERVISE, COMMUNICATE AND WARN ABOUT SIDE-EFFECTS
Dr. Peter Rost is a former Pfizer Marketing Vice President providing services as an expert witness on pharmaceutical marketing. He has worked for several major plaintiff firms (references available) on cases related to antipsychotics, antidepressants, pain killers, antivirals, injectables (as well as other areas), testifying about deceptive, improper, or illegal marketing and selling activities as well as failure to train, supervise, communicate and warn about risks or side-effects.
PHARMACEUTICAL MARKETING EXPERT WITNESS BIOGRAPHY AND CVClick on Dr. Peter Rost CV (left) to view full size.
Peter Rost, M.D. is a former Vice President, Marketing for the drug company Pfizer.
Prior to his work for Pfizer, Dr. Rost was a Vice President, Marketing and Managing Director for Wyeth, responsible for the Nordic region in Europe.
Dr. Rost has been featured on numerous radio and television broadcasts, among them “60 Minutes,” and in hundreds of newspaper articles, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Fortune.
Dr. Rost is also the author of one fiction and three non-fiction books, among them “Killer Drug, “The Whistleblower—Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman,” and “Emergency Surgery.”
He has written op-eds for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and dozens of other major newspapers and is also a writer for Brandweek, Realtid and Läkemedelsvärlden.
Dr. Rost has also testified before the U.S. Senate, as well as many state congresses and conducted several press conferences with U.S. Senators, Members of U.S. Congress, and State Governors. He has also been key note speaker for many industry and political organizations.
Recent news on Dr. Rost available from Google News.
PHARMACEUTICAL MARKETING EXPERT WITNESS PHONE & EMAIL
Dr. Rost e-mail
Phone: (973) 273-4668
EXPERT WITNESS SERVICESDr. Rost is available to review both Plaintiff and Defendant cases.
Dr. Rost has experience with class action, product liability, false claims/qui tam & criminal cases. He is available for general litigation support, medical and marketing record review, depositions, expert reports and trial testimony.
Areas in which Dr. Rost performs expert witness testimony: Patent Infringement, Pharmaceutical Marketing, Drug Product Liability, Drug Marketing and Promotion, Drug Sales.
• SPEECHES (not complete list): National Venture Capital Association, U.S. Senate, Governor of Indiana, Governor of Montana, Maryland Senate, Vermont Senate, New York City Council, Southern Medical Association, ESOMAR, NC Pharmacy Association, The Prescription Access Litigation Project, Minnesota Senior Federation, Danske Bank, Sveriges Riksdag, Sveriges Radio Sommar, Svenska Nyhetsbrev AB, Entreprenörsdagen, Stockholms Läns Landsting, Läkemedelskommittén i Jämtlands län, Gräv 08-Undersökande Journalister, Västsvenska Industri- och Handelskammaren, Sveriges Läkarsällskap, Svenska Neurologföreningen, Hjärntrusten Management AB.
• WRITING: The New York Times, Brandweek, Los Angeles Times, NJ Star-Ledger, NJ Voices, Realtid, Läkemedelsvärlden
• LEGAL CONSULTING/EXPERT WITNESS: Client list available upon request. Personal references available from major plaintiff firms. Example:
DR. ROST MEDIA
PRESIDENT OBAMA'S CHIEF OF STAFF, RAHM EMANUEL: "I WOULD LIKE TO NOMINATE DR. ROST FOR THE GUTS OF THE YEAR AWARD"
DR. ROST ON FOX NEWS: DISCUSSING VYTORIN ON "MONEY FOR BREAKFAST"
DR. ROST ON AMERICAN LAW JOURNAL TELEVISION
Taped at the Drexel Unviersity Anthony J. Drexel Picture Gallery in Philadelphia, attorney host Christopher Naughton welcomes attorneys Stephen Sheller of Sheller, P.C., Raymond Williams of DLA Piper and former pharmacuetical executive Dr. Peter Rost.
"The American public doesn't trust drug companies," says Rost, "and they have to do more than rehash old guidelines."
The American Law Journal broadcasts every Sunday night at 6:30 p.m. on CN8, The Comcast Network and is available free on demand--click here for the website.
Dr. Rost on Leonard Lopate Show, New York Public Radio. Streaming audio here.
Dr. Rost on 60 Minutes, "Insider's Rx For Drug Costs." Streaming video here.
Dr. Rost on ABC/Safran download here.
Dr. Rost on Barry Gordon/From left field download here.
Dr. Rost on CNN:
Dr. Rost on FOX News:
Dr. Rost on Capitol Hill:
Dr. Rost and Maria Bartiromo:
THE DAY: "PFIZER WHISTLEBLOWER IN RUNNING FOR TOP FDA POST"
Former Pfizer VP Rost finds support for job
By Lee Howard
Published on 12/6/2008
The Day, CT
If Pfizer Inc. were to describe its worst nightmare, it might very well be seeing former company whistleblower Peter Rost become commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
So guess who is actively seeking the FDA's top post?
Rost, a former Pfizer vice president who turned whistleblower after he alleged that a subsidiary of the company started promoting off-label uses of various drugs, not only is in the running for FDA commissioner, but he has at least two congressmen in his corner.
This week, the Web site Pharmalot reported that U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, would be sending a letter of recommendation for Rost as well as several other candidates for the post. Rost also has picked up support from U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., chairman of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who has been involved in many investigations of the FDA.
”I encourage you to seek meaningful reform of the FDA, which begins with a complete change in the FDA's leadership,” Stupak wrote in a letter to president-elect Obama endorsing Rost's candidacy.
Rost said he is looking for a shakeup of the FDA, including a reorienting of the agency's priorities from serving the drug industry to helping American citizens.
”That means the agency would focus not only on the fastest and most efficient processing of new drug applications, but would also ensure that unsafe drugs are taken off the market or labeling (is) revised in a more timely manner,” Rost said in an interview this week with eDrugSearch. com, which endorsed his candidacy.
Some of Rost's most controversial stances include his views on reimportation of drugs from Canada, which he approves, and his opposition to direct-to-consumer advertising.
”DTC advertising is not part of a 'free market' - it is part of manipulation of consumers who don't know better and doctors who give the patient whatever they ask for,” Rost said.
Pfizer fired Rost in 2005 after it became known that the marketing executive's allegations about off-label promotion of drugs had led to a criminal investigation against the company.
Rost went on to write a bestseller about his experiences, titled “The Whistleblower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman,” which detailed payouts to doctors, marketing drugs to children and various illegal and unethical activities he said he witnessed.
Dr. Rost on "Agenda," Swedish Television, speaks about Pfizer's Lipitor.If you speak Swedish and want to check out the segment about pharmaceuticals on "Agenda," you can start viewing about 37 minutes into the show.
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 Amazon.com. 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.]
Friday, May 22, 2009
Listen to what she said about flirting with old doctors . . .
At one point, Corinne insisted, “I have no moral compass.” The most damning illustration has to do with her (now former) job as a pharmaceutical sales rep, where she said she knowingly sold drugs to physicicans that she knew would kill people. “Selling drugs is a lie. I sold drugs that I knew damn well—I sold Vioxx for Merck before it got taken off the market for killing people. I knew damn well it was dangerous; I went around telling them to write it. There’s a lot of serious lying I’ve done in my life,” she said.
That’s okay, Corinne told me, because “I’m doing a job. For me, in that case, Merck told me to go out and sell drug even though I had hesitation about it. It’s not for me to say. … Don’t listen to me. Read your fucking journals. Why the fuck are you listening to your rep? Just because I’m pretty? You think I know more about the drug? No.”
Thursday, May 21, 2009
First, forget about buying something like this almost anywhere in the U.S., especially not at Starbucks. You'll have to do one yourself, but once you've learned the world will never be the same.
I'm going to teach you to make the cappuccino that will move not only your taste buds, but your life. Most surprising to me is that it is very hard to find all the little secrets to success in this area on the Internet, so I figure this will be my most read post ever.
How to make the perfect cappuccino
1. Start with great coffee. You can use dark, medium or light roast, it really is up to you. Any roast will do. Darker beans give a stronger espresso and lighter beans give a sweeter espresso. It's a matter of taste. What you do need to ensure is that you have freshly ground beans, and usually you have to use the finest espresso grind setting on your machine.
2. Use a chilled metal pitcher with really cold milk. The secret is that the colder the milk, the longer you can create foam and the better and more foam you'll get. That also means you should preferably use a larger pitcher with more milk, rather than a tiny one which will start to boil right away and then the process is ruined. The milk should never be over 160 ºF and you should be able to barely touch the side and bottom of the pitcher with your hand.
3. Fill the metal pitcher half full. Use only fresh whole milk. 2% is the worst and you'll never get good foam. Lots of restaurants and Panera do this. The result is disgusting. Skim milk kind of works but makes for lousy cappuccino.
4. If you're starting out, use a thermometer which you place inside pitcher. 160 ºF and you have to stop or milk will get too hot and protein coagulate and the thing will be undrinkable.
5. Frothing the milk looks so easy when someone else does this, but is really the hardest part. At least you will now start with the right ingredients. And we want lots of foam, since it is pretty and tastes delicious, but we want the RIGHT kind of foam. That means we only want tiny micro-bubbles that you can hardly see with your eyes, not big bubbles because they taste like--nothing.
6. So here's how you froth the milk: Tilt the ice cold, large, metal pitcher with lots of really cold milk. Insert the steam wand at a diagonal angle just at or below the surface of the milk (this is key) so that the milk starts to swirl around the pitcher rapidly. You want the milk in the half full pitcher to froth and increase in size until the pitcher is full, (this ain't easy and will require training, so buy lots of milk). Steam to 150-160 ºF (60-65 ºC). Remember, the temperature of the milk will raise 5 ºF (10 ºC) as it sits. First you will see big bubbles form, the milk will start to swirl, and after about ten seconds the steam will force those big bubbles down and start to make wonderful, delicious micro bubbles and the milk will start to rapidly increase in volume. If you lift the wand too high, you'll get new big bubbles and that is not what you want. If you go down too deep into the milk with the wand, it will simply heat the milk and there will be no more bubbles.
7. When you are done tap the pitcher against the table and swirl the milk a bit to remove any remaining big bubbles and give the milk a shiny, color and feel like wet paint. If you wish, place the milk in refrigerator for 30 seconds or so. This makes the foam set better.
8. Now you'll make the espresso coffee, which is a lot easier. Tamp the ground espresso into the head and lock it into position on the espresso machine. You need a good machine that produces enough steam for both milk and coffee. Usually these start at around $300 and up. The pump ones, like Breville, work a lot better than the steam driven ones, that often run out of steam. No pun intended.
9. Espresso coffee is a small (1 to 2 oz.) shot of pressure-brewed coffee, using about 1-2 tablespoons of finely ground coffee. usually you want a double shot. When this is done correctly, the brewing takes about 15 to 25 seconds, depending on if you do single or double shot and you will get a layer of rich, light brown or golden cream on the surface, called "crema." This crema is the hallmark of a quality espresso. No crema, you probably didn't have a fine enough grind or you didn't compact the coffee enough or your machine is crap. Longer brew time will give you more bitter coffee, too short time and you won't get the crema. Stop right when the coffee turns very light.
10. Pouring shots can also be an art form, check out the video below. A perfect shot has a fluid heart, minimum body and a small helping of crema or foam on its surface. You pour the milk and foam, or spoon the foam into the coffee. And now you enjoy.
How to make the perfect iced cappuccino.
This is easy. Just follow the steps above with one difference. Pour the hot espresso coffee over ice cubes, then the milk and foam. Milk and coffee will become ice cold, and the foam is already cold. You're done.
How to make the perfect cappuccino tricolor.
This is the visual masterpiece. The secret to get the milk in the bottom followed by a separate layer of espresso and then steamed milk is to make sure that the milk at the bottom is at least ten degrees colder than the boiling coffee. First you pour in the warm milk with foam into a tall glass, then you use a spoon to carefully pour hot espresso into the mix and the coffee will stay on top of the milk.
How to make the perfect iced cappuccino tricolor.
Same principle as above but with the difference that you first fill the glass with slightly more ice than the cold milk you pout into the glass. Then you slowly pour hot espresso coffee on top of the ice, and it will stay there and rapidly cool. Last you add the foam. And this is what you'll get:
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Here's one example, go to GQ for much more:
Holy war, anyone?
Monday, May 18, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I'm about to get a new job in the drug industry, maybe with AstraZeneca!
What most of you don't know is that only a day before the "Zube Affair" I e-mailed my CV to AstraZeneca's communications professionals. Well, I sent it to Astra's CEO as well. Which may be a bit ironic, considering how this affair has played out.
But it also shows why the drug industry needs me very badly. Especially AstraZeneca.
Perhaps I should also point out that I actually sent my CV to more than one hundred pharma CEO's and communications professionals.
So why do you think I think that I will soon have a new job?
Well, if the Zube Affair doesn't convince them that they need me back, I think my letter will.
The logic is impenetrable. So, soon I'll stop blogging and start working. You heard it here first.
And here's that letter which will land me my next job:
Dear [First Name]
Since you work in the communications and media area, I figured you might have heard about me, and could assist forwarding my CV to your CEO with your recommendation to interview me for a leadership position in your organization.
The fact that I have been vindicated and proven right about what I did at Pfizer (see below), should make me a very attractive employee for anyone in the drug industry.
Let’s be straight here: I’ve clearly been blacklisted for more than a year after Pfizer fired me for blowing the whistle on illegal marketing, without a single job interview, in spite of the best performance within all of Pfizer. (See attached CV.) But now things are different. It turns out that I was right and Pharmacia was wrong. After all, otherwise Pfizer wouldn’t have paid a $35 million fine.
And I thought that since all drug company CEO’s talk about how ethical they are, and how it is always prior management that was guilty of whatever fines they had to pay; perhaps someone in the current management would like to hire me? I mean, that would be like putting the hiring decision where there’s currently just PR-spin.
So, I figured, YOUR COMPANY might be jumping for joy to hire me. And you should probably respond ASAP, so you beat the others to the punch. After all, what better PR could you get for your organization than hiring a guy who did everything right and delivered the best financial results? As a PR professional, you probably realize this would dispel the myth that your company is one of the crooks. I guess the only risk is if you don’t hire me, everyone will wonder what you have to hide . . . but let’s face it, as someone working with public relations for your company, you are keenly aware that only 7% of Americans in the 2006 Harris poll think drug companies “are generally honest and trustworthy,” so there is only upside to you responding to this letter. Because, to be very frank, based on that poll your department has completely failed in its mission and here’s your chance to do something about that.
By the way, not only did my unit during my last year in charge deliver the best financial result within all of Pharmacia/Pfizer based on objective sales data vs. forecast (comparing products with sales of more than $100 million), I also doubled sales in two years, as a general manager for northern Europe, and moved one affiliate from #19 to #7.
And if you don’t have any permanent position available, I’d be very pleased to do some consulting work for you, or come in and entertain your leadership team with a hard-hitting presentation which was voted #1 during a recent industry seminar with drug company PR-professionals (evaluation letter from meeting organizers available upon request).
I’m looking forward to hearing back from you, very soon. And, please don’t be afraid to forward this e-mail. At a minimum your CEO will be entertained.
But there is more; I immediately got one response to this letter last last week, from one drug company that decided right away they didn't want me: Schering-Plough.
If I remember correctly, most of Pharmacia's old management went to Schering-Plough. Including the guy who was in charge of Genotropin before I started . . . now why would they not want to hire me?
They if anyone would need me. Too bad they don't seem to realize that. Stay tuned. I hear Department of Justice is investigating Pharmacia's Bextra marketing.
SSS (5 of 14) False Memory and Eyewitness Testimony
Uploaded by shwooddotcom - Discover more college videos.
I got nine and seven . . . what about you?
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
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Personal Information You Choose to Provide
You may voluntarily provide us personally identifiable information. If you choose to correspond with us through e-mail, we may retain the content of your e-mail messages together with your e-mail address and our responses and we may publish, eat, or create anything we like based on this correspondence.
Similar to other web sites, our web site utilizes a standard technology called “cookies” (see explanation below, “What Are Cookies?”) and Web server logs to collect information about how our web site is used. Information gathered through cookies and Web server logs may include the date and time of visits, the pages viewed, time spent at our web site, and the web sites visited just before and just after our web site as well as other personal information that happens to get stuck.
How Do We Use the Information That You Provide to Us?
Broadly speaking, we use personal information for purposes of enhancing or modifying our site, administering and expanding our business activities or responding to inquiries. We also use it for fun, laugh our heads off, and to write posts.
What Are Cookies?
A cookie is a very small text document, which often includes an anonymous unique identifier. When you visit a web site, that site’s computer asks your computer for permission to store this file in a part of your hard drive specifically designated for cookies. You can disable this function, so if you didn't you have nothing to complain about. But if you do disable this function most web sites you like will not recognize you and you will probably enable the function again, because you are lazy. Each web site can send its own cookie to your browser if your browser’s preferences allow it, but (to protect your privacy) your browser only permits a web site to access the cookies it has already sent to you, not the cookies sent to you by other sites.
How Do We Use Information We Collect from Cookies?
In short, any way we want. As you use our web site, the site uses its cookies to differentiate you from other users. It can’t take your picture or check you shoe size, but you can assume that one day it will. Cookies, in conjunction with our Web server’s log files, allow us to calculate the aggregate number of people visiting our web site and which parts of the site are most popular. It also helps us identify crazy people who read this blog once every hour. This helps us gather feedback in order to constantly improve our web site. And to spy on the people who spy on us. Cookies do not allow us to gather any personal information about you, which is really sad, and we do not generally store any personal information that you provided to us in your cookies, but we may. Hey, so you never know.
Sharing Information with Third Parties
We generally do not share information collected with third parties but reserve the right to do so. And if someone offers us a gazillion dollars we may cave in and share anything.
How Do We Protect Your Information?
E-mail is not recognized as a secure medium of communication. You should not send private or confidential information to us by e-mail or otherwise in connection with our site. Anyway, anything you send we may publish or do whatever we want with.
We may disclose your personal information if required to do so by law or subpoena or if we believe that such action is necessary to (a) conform to the law or comply with legal process served on us or parties affiliated with us; (b) protect and defend our rights and property, our Site, the users of our site, and/or our affiliated parties; and/or (c) act under circumstances to protect the safety of users of the site, us, or third parties.
What About Other web sites Linked to Our web site?
We love 'em. But we are not responsible for the practices employed by web sites linked to or from our web site nor the information or content contained therein. Often links to other web sites are provided solely as pointers to information on topics that may be useful to the users of our web site.
Questions and Updates
If you have any questions or suggestions about our privacy practices, or you wish to update or correct any personally identifiable information that you have chosen to provide us, please feel free to contact us at our email, which you will find somewhere on this blog.