Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Pfizer to Rost: An Offer You Can't Refuse

Rost Accepts Pfizer Settlement, Renames Blog "Question Authority (Except Pfizer, the Largest Drug Company on the Planet)"

Will we someday read this headline in Fortune or the Wall Street Journal, which, of course, would only print it if true -- unlike here, where I am merely extending a scenario envisioned by Jim Edwards over at BrandNRX (see "Can Pfizer Get Over Its Anger and Utilize the Leverage It Has With Rost?").

Jim suggests that Pfizer has "a fantastic opportunity in front of them that no other drug company has: The ability to tie Rost up in a legal settlement that would prevent him from blogging about Pfizer ever again." Jim suggests that Rost would have no option but to accept the offer that cannot be refused:

"And given the scale of pharma settlements, it is highly likely, IMHO, that Rost would feel duty bound to accept those terms. He has a house, wife and kids to provide for after all, and bloggging and publishing don't make people rich."
It's difficult to argue against that point. God knows, I would accept being rich in return for silence. Everyone has his/her price. Don't forget: Rost was "rich" with an annual salary of about $750,000, which he had to give up to blow the whistle. Not many people would have given that up to be righteous.

If Pfizer ever bestowed this "gift" upon Rost, I have no doubt that he will survive and could continue to expose pharmaceutical companies other than Pfizer.

But would the brand "Question Authority" survive? Think of all the T-shirts and mugs he wouldn't be able to sell!

But how much Pfizer money would silence Rost? That's an interesting question that I'd like to have some input on. Peter might also like to know where the line should be drawn.

What will it take to silence Rost?
Somewhat less than $1 Million
$1 to $2 Million
$2 to $5 Million
$5 to $10 Million
An astronomical sum of money!


Anonymous said...

Some readers, at least one at Dr. Rost's blog, comments that it would be a betrayal of the "nobal" couse he has started. Maybe. However he has to look after his own interests and if they do come up with an offer he can't refuse I think he should and he will take it.
The alternative is to continue doing what he does now, go after them with his law suits and hope he would win.
In the meantime what he and others are succeeding at with all the exposure of the big pharma wrongdoing? Not much. We are basically spining our wheels and they continue to do what they want to do. When something is exposed and they get fined. They pay up, change the tune and continue. Some companies, like Novartis for instance have not been caught in a big way to pay hundreds of millions in fines. Why? They for sure are ding the same things and on the "ethical" scale they are 4th and Pfizer 5th this year and the numbers were reversed last year. We know what is happening with Pfizer and how many times they got caught with thier pill making pants down.
Is blogging going to help the others' exposure or it can be done only by the way those companies that paid those 20 billion in fines in the last 20 years, were exposed and cought.
Media and now blogs do contribute to change but the only and truely thing the big pharma is afraid of are the courts of law that have the power to break them.
In US you have good strong laws so those who do have the evidence, do it right, use the courts to bring them down.

PharmaGuy said...

Sadly, a lot of what you say may be true about what affects Pharma.

However, some of us bloggers feel that the industry can change and that there are plenty of people who work for pharma that would like to see some changes. Some of these insiders may be looking to blogs to offer some constructive criticisms and ideas for doing things right.

I know that several pharma readers of my boog - Pharma Marketing Blog -- feel that way and have thanked me for ideas.

Of course, I am not dealing with criminal activity at the level of Rost and his informants, but there haas to be other techniques for correcting the drug industry's course than the courts.

There is, for exmaple, politial action -- maybe if fewer people voted for Republicans, we might see more government supervision!


Anonymous said...

There is a book in the making, that may or not make it into print. It is an attempt to demistify the "ugly" side of the big pharma thatcertainly has its "good, bad and ugly" sides. Although the "ugly" side will not be called "ugly" in the book but will use a similar word to the same effect. The main premise of the book is that there is an ugly side to the big pharma that is for real and it is practiced delibarately, with plan, with management approval and is a part of overall MO of the big pharma in general. Most busineses have this side and is well known, but big pharma as "ethical" pharam business should not have this side and did not have in the good old days of "classic" pharma business. It is the evolment of the classic pharma into the big pharma that brought about such behaviour. Why? Because only by using the unaceptable methods of doing business (off label, bribes,fraud etc) can the big pharma produce those enormous sales figures and maximum profits. Look at recent cases like Pfizer, BMS, A/Z, that paid huge fines for promoting their drugs off label and made huge profits as a result of additional sales. They could not do this without using the illegal methods and if one is to believe the figures, they came out ahead even after paying all those fines. Some continue to do it and may not be caught again. Some never get caught. If you are doing business in Canada and other countries without strong laws, your are laughing.
For more you will have to wait for the book, if it makes it.
P.s. of course "the good" of this business is wonderful and there are many good people as you say, who want the change to the better, by eliminating "the bad" (Vioxx,Avandia, Zelnorm....) and "the ugly" - the organized misconduct.

Anonymous said...

If you are still looking for publisher we are interested. Leave a clue how to find you.

Anonymous said...

We are talking to 3 at this time. Looks good and details are being worked out. Yes the devil IS in the details including the absolute legal firewall for the authors.