Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Rost Replaces Edwards at BrandweekNRX - Can it Be True?

Do you believe in coincidences? How about this one...

Last week, Peter Rost, "the drug industry's most annoying - and effective - online scourge," announced that he was hired to be a journalist for "a real magazine; you know, printed paper and hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Or something in that range." (see "Rost Now an Authority, Renames Blog")

Then, today, Jim Edwards of BrandweekNRX writes:

"This will be my last post on this blog. As I walk off into the sunset to do this, someone new will take over for a while. I won’t spoil the surprise; check back tomorrow."

I think not!

My inquiry to Jim Edwards regarding this matter via a comment to his post and personal email has gone unanswered as of this writing.

Rost responded to my email request to "confirm or deny" this rumor and asked me to name my "credible source" aka "Deep Throat."

I think if Rost intends to be a journalist, the first thing he needs to learn is that we bloggers have a tradition of protecting our sources! Of course, he was just pulling my chain and refused to confirm or deny the rumor.

One would think that hiring a pharma industry whistleblower as a journalist to cover the pharma beat would bend the notion of unbiased reporting so far as to break it, but there may be some benefit to pharma if Brandweek hires Rost, as my "Deep Throat" points out:
"Now, if I were to put my Machiavellian hat on, I could imagine a cabal of pharma corporate PR types banding together and convincing Brandweek to take him on as a way of 'domesticating' him -- subjecting him to editorial oversight and at least semi-journalistic standards vs. the buccaneer figure he's been cutting up to now... paycheck and prospect of promotion to the 'majors' (i.e., the print version of Brandweek) riding on whether he goes overboard or not."
Hmmm... Rost the pharma beat guy at Brandweek -- not as preposterous as it sounds!

Avandia Critic "Bitch Slapped" Says Wonker, But Who's the Bitch?

Have you ever been "bitch slapped" or has anyone chortled that "X sure bitch slapped Y", where "Y" was YOU? No?

Then, my blogger friend, you haven't lived and experienced the full wrath of the many Internet bozos out there -- especially the ones lurking over at CafePharma (I kid you guys!).

Enough about me... (HELP! It's summer and I can't focus on important work!)

The latest bozo to use the phrase "bitch slap" is Peter Pitts, chief wanker over at Drug Wonks.

"Okay," says Peter "the good news is a 22-1 Avandia vote, a bitch slap to David Graham, a view of the Steve Nissen spin machine in action, and a reminder that the FDA really does act in best interests of the public health."

That's interesting, because the bad news -- as I point out in my post over at Pharma Marketing Blog -- is that the open discord between FDA's Office of New Drugs (OND), which approved Avandia for sale in the US, and the Office of Surveillance and Epidemiology, which is responsible for monitoring drug safety, demonstrates that the FDA is somewhat dysfunctional and may not be able to act in the best interests of public health (see "FDA's Chang and Eng: Benefit vs. Risk").

But I digress ... back to bitch slapping.

I looked this term up in the Urban Dictionary, which is a social networking site where visitors can vote on definitions.

There seems to be 2 different camps when it comes to the definition of "bitch slap." One camp contends it describes the way a "bitch" would slap someone, as in:

A Bitch Slap is a sharp, openhanded, stinging, yet generally benign slap – similar to being slapped by a bitch. When you “bitch slap” someone, you are slapping him or her like a woman would! Scratching, hair pulling, cursing, and crying generally follow a well-placed bitch slap.

Usage: LaFawnda bitch slapped Rico for talkin bout her bunions.
Another camp contends that it says more about the slappee than the slapper; namely, the slappee deserves no respect:
To open handedley slap someone. Denote disrespect for the person being bitch slapped as they are not worthy of a man sized punch. Suggests the slap was met with little resistance and much whining

Usage: Kieth owed me that $20 for weeks and I had to bitch slap the M.F. to get it back.
I am sure Pitts was implying that Graham was treated like a bitch rather than his critics were acting like bitches.

In either case, is this the sort of derogatory language that a co-founder of Center for Medicine in the Public Interest and Senior Vice President for Health Affairs at Manning, Selvage & Lee should use?

Did I just "bitch slap" (a la variation #2) Pitts?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Welcome to Peter Rost's World!

Keeping up with Peter Rost is a full-time job, as I am sure Pfizer's lawyers well know and appreciate!

Last week, I thought Peter renamed his blog (see "Rost Now an Authority, Renames Blog"), but now he has reverted back to using the Question Authority name, at least for now.

Peter recently celebrated on a Swedish Summer radio show.

The photo above shows him at work.

There were a few things in Peter's workspace that interested me because they reveal something about Peter or that can be interpreted to mean something more than they really are.

I invite you to tell us what the labeled (A, B, C, D, etc.) items signify to you.

For example, "A" to me looks like an ID tag to a secure site. Maybe it's a Pfizer ID tag that Peter keeps as a memento. I suppose it won't help him break into Pfizer, but why is he keeping it? Or maybe it's an ID for some other organization?

"B" is a simple chair signifying that Peter may have sold all his furniture to tide him over while his whistle-blower case against Pfizer goes on.

"C" is his escape hatch in case his house is raided by Pfizer or Homeland Security agents.

"D" looks like some kind of gizmo similar to what the "Bush Pilot" uses (see "Bush's Pilot Suffers from Premature Commutation - Does Pfizer Have a Drug for That?").

"E" looks like nice, soft Italian loafers. Where's you get those, Peter? I want a pair just like that!

"F" appears to be a standard, Pfizer-issued Dell notebook computer. I know that Peter bought his own Vaio, so what's he doing with this one?

Any other ideas?

I'm off to the pool!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Rost Now an Authority, Renames Blog

Apparently, Peter Rost, "the drug industry's most annoying - and effective - online scourge," has now become an "authority" and dropped the "Question Authority" moniker for his blog, which he now calls "ROST FILES by Dr. Peter Rost."

Rost had previously announced that he was hired to be a journalist for "a real magazine; you know, printed paper and hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Or something in that range."

Although Rost was circumspect about the identity of this "real magazine," this author interprets Rost's statement to mean a mainstream publication having some "authority" in the "real" world.

Asked if he will continue to sell "Question Authority" T-shirts and mugs on the Internet, Rost had no comment. It could be that Rost didn't hear this author ask him the question or it could be that this author didn't bother to email or call Rost to make inquiries.


Rost is officially invited to respond by posting a comment here.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Not What I Meant About Women in Viagra Ads!

A few days ago, I pointed out that there were no women in the new "Viva Viagra" ad (see "No Women in Viva Viagra Ad!").

Today, over at Pharma Marketing Blog, I suggested that Pfizer study new ways to link a wife's sexual health with the husband's in TV ads to mirror how ED may affect relationships in the real world (see "Social Network Analysis Good for Obesity Drug Marketing and Beyond!").

However, when I say that women should appear in Viagra ads, I am not talking about scenarios like the one shown here, where a man and a woman are going at it like rabbits!

I'm sure all of you have seen this image in spam email -- or are these spammers sophisticated enough to know that I once participated in an ED focus group (see "My Sojourn as Market Research Subject for Levitra")?

BTW, please tell me that "rabbit hole" does not mean what I think it means!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

GSK CEO Calls Nissen a "tool"

Not really! That was just to catch your attention. Who knows, I may be sued by GSK! That would liven up this DULL summer!

Here's what he really said:

GSK CEO Jean-Pierre Garnier, in his Center City office, called a critical study of diabetes drug Avandia "a good diagnostic tool." This, according to a story in today's Philadelphia Inquirer.

About the movie SiCKO, which he obviously hasn't seen, Garnier says:

"I'm sure it has entertainment value," he said. "The model of health care is Canada, Cuba and France? That can only have entertainment value."
Yes, very entertaining to those American folks who THOUGHT they had health insurance, but had to chose between reconnecting a middle finger and a ring finger. Yes, yes, I know; THAT guy didn't have ANY insurance at all!

If I were that guy, I'd gladly pay $16,000 (or whatever) to have my middle finger re-attached so that I can shove it up in Garnier's (French, isn't he?) face!

Read more about this at Pharmalot.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

No Women in Viva Viagra Ad!

In a departure from previous Viagra ads and most other erectile dysfunction DTC ads I've seen, there are NO women in the Viva Viagra ad shown for the first time on TV last night.

See "Viva Viagra Ad is No Cure for Morte Sales".

It's just a bunch of good old (well, not so old) guys in what looks like an abandoned roadhouse having some fun with their instruments -- not that there's anything wrong with that!

At the end of the ad, they all SEEM to go their separate ways -- home to their "honey's" I suppose.

This curious fact was also noted on the All Things Witham Blog, which is "focused" on "The Withams of Glen Allen, Virginia---Jesus, "24" (the best TV show in history), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Radio, Advertising and Creativity, Scrapbooking, Sleep Apnea, 80s music, CCM, pro wrestling, Yu-Gi-Oh, piano lessons, Full House, theology, sports, blogging, and whatever else is on our warped minds....."

Which had this to say:

....and I thought late night infomercials, ah, QVC......

....in my childhood, the Mike Douglas or Merv Griffin Show......

But NOW, my friends, I have found the ultimate dumping ground for washed up male musicians.

Viva Viagra!!!

Yes, there's now a commercial with the back-up musicians to the back-up musicians to the ones who once claimed they played in the band who toured with, oh, I don't know, John Davidson maybe? And they're sitting around, gettin' all excited about the prospect of Pfizer walking in with free samples, cuz they're comin' home to the lady!! Whoo hoo.

What they've not been told is there are no impending females within miles, putting a damper on their "pre-game" fight song.

This commercial isn't "questionable", "tasteless", "controversial", et al.....

It's sad. Just pathetically sad.

Need to ask wifey if she heard any geezers singing it on the streets of Vegas the other week......
Good to know that I wasn't the only one to notice the lack of females in this curious ad!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Whistleblower Hell vs. Whistleblower Heaven

Peter Rost's Rock Group, "The Pharma Spies," dedicated the song "Whistleblower Hell" to Novartis whistleblower Mr. David Olagunu. The lyrics are:

I knew it was illegal,
that they were clearly wrong.
I was feeling kind of worried,
but my conscience made me strong.
The company got nasty,
when I told them what I'd found.
then they called out all their thugs and goons,
and beat me to the ground.

And so I woke up in the gutter,
for being honest with myself,
because the company just sent me,
into whistleblower hell.

They said that it was treason,
As they showed me the door
now I'm sleeping near a dumpster,
cause the beatings left me poor.
My wife and children ditched me,
and I'll never work at all.
My murder will come it's plain to see,
but I'd do it all again.

And so I woke up in the gutter,
for being honest with myself,
because the company has sent me,
into whistleblower hell.
A dire picture indeed, if true. Mr. David Olagunu could be walking the streets right now, but someday he may end up in Whistleblower Heaven, which I imagine looks something like the photo on the right in the above composite.

Just to add some fuel to Rost's Hell fire, I asked if anyone collected statistics on the fate of whistleblowers; how many went bankrupt, how many are unemployed and destitute, how many are fairly well off thank you ...that sort of thing.

A quick search on Google yielded some qui tam case statistics from the Department of Justice.

From 1987 through 2006, there were 5,514 qui tam cases filed. Let's assume each involved one whistleblower. A total of $11,062,851,302 was awarded and these 5,514 whistleblowers' shared $1,799,444,848 of that, which works out to $326,341 per whistleblower.

That's not a lot considering some whistleblowers at the VP level in pharma companies may have taken home a yearly salary of $750,000, which is substantially more than they are likely to get from qui tam cases. This, of course, does not involve civil cases (eg, wrongful termination, etc.) that whistleblowers may also file against their former employers.

But and AVERAGE of $326K per whistleblower is not chopped liver either! No need to sleep in the gutter with that nest egg! Invested correctly (see Whistleblowing for Dummies for help on that), this could yield you a comfortable retirement income when combined with your 401K, stock options, civil case proceeds (if any), and retirement plan.

Given that, I suspect you'd find more whistleblowers in heaven than in hell.

Whistleblower 419 Scam?

NOTE: Pharma Giles and I have been having a discussion on whistleblowing in comments made to a previous post. I thought I'd reproduce that here:

Pharma Giles said...
Like all the best spoofs, there's an element of truth here.

But it is very naughty of you indeed to suggest for one minute that all whistleblowers are just disgruntled losers who are out for revenge! I think that's only true in the majority of cases.

But whatever a whsitleblower's motivation, it surely cannot be a bad thing to shine a bright light into the murkier recesses of pharma? You make it sound wrong.

Would you rather just have folk meekly bending over and taking the rough end of the proverbial pineapple, rather than making their soon-to-be-ex-masters as uncomfortable as they can?

Dr. Rost flourishes by dint of his wit(s). I look forward to his response to this provacative example of yours.

Forward With The Yobbosphere!!!
John Mack said...
I admit that I am a bit queasy about whistleblowers. Primarily because they are not disinterested parties and often have a hidden agenda: cashing in!

Secondarily, there seems to be quite an industry sprouting up around whistleblowers, especially a legal industry. Who knows how many whistleblowers are enticed by legal eagles to come forward with the scantiest of evidence? When the evidence doesn't pan out, it is often the whistleblower that is left in the dust.

Let's not forget that Peter Rost is the exception that proves the rule. I doubt if many whistleblowers are as resourceful and skilled as Rost, especially not those who put their faith in God!

Thirdly, and maybe most importantly, very few whistleblower cases actually help the industry see the errors of its ways and change. Sure, we get a look at murky recesses, but management circles the wagons ever more tightly and continues along their merry way more stealthily than ever. Where's the fix? Fines are paid and lawyers and whistleblowers divvy up the proceeds with the US Treasury. End of story!

Also, is it just me or are we getting overloaded with whistleblower stories? Wolf! Wolf! Wolf!
Pharma Giles said...
Perhaps the reason we are getting "overloaded" is that with the rise of blogs such as Dr. Rost's or Ed Silverman's, whistleblowers now have somewhere to turn in the event of corporate intimidation.

The alleged treatment of Mr Olagunju at Novartis is a carbon copy of events I have personally seen happen to others who speak out.

One wonders if there is a standard HR protocol to humiliate and harass honest and ethical employees into resigning.

In this instance (and having read his case statement) I feel sure that Mr. Olagunju is not looking to "cash in". He is simply looking for justice, both for himself and for the public who deserve to be protected from a drug whose harmful side effects may (if proven in court) have been buried for commercial advantage.

He should be admired, not derided. I am not, of course, saying that you are doing the latter, but if you aren't then your timing is pretty bad.

As always, there is merit in what you say regarding some whistles that have gone "peep" recently (did anyone really get seriously worked up about bloody cupcakes, for example?), but I really think you may have picked the wrong time or the wrong case to make your point.

But it is a jolly good spoof, right or wrong. It's good to see people reaching for the gigglestick rather than the boring old bludgeon of point/counterpoint...
John Mack said...
As far as I am concerned,we are not privy to all the facts in any ongoing whistleblower case. We are only hearing details from one side -- the whistleblower, who, of course, always makes himself out to be a martyr.

So, I cannot be certain whether any whistleblower deserves my admiration or not.

That being said, it would be better if companies embraced people who go through proper channels to point out problems. But human nature being the way it is, these people are always going to be treated harshly by their peers who will use any means possible to protect themselves.

I don't envy the position most potential whistleblowers are in. I can see how they are pressured NOT to act until the endgame of their careers arrive. Surely, it is a career-ending move.

For every whistleblower there are probably ten people who just quit and change careers. Some have written books about their experience, which is often more effective than whistleblowing in terms of bringing these issues to light but less effective at providing a profit.

I can't control the timing of my remarks, which I make when the issue has reached a boiling point within me and I can no longer contain it. The timing certainly has no bearing on any particular whistleblower, although I have to admit that in Mr. Olagunju's case, it is difficult not to overlook his remarks about "the Lord".

Rost notes that Mr. Olagunju ends his e-mails with "The Lord is good unto them that wait upon Him. Wait upon the Lord! God bless you."

Isn't this what we see in every 419 scam email originating from Nigeria? As in:

"Remain blessed in the name of the Lord.

"Yours in Christ,

I've got to wonder if Mr. Olagunju is on some "mission from God" -- a funny line in the Blues Brothers movie, but a bit scary in the real world as we all know!

It seems that this particular case is now hurting Novartis' bottom line and may be delaying the approval of a new drug, which is fine if the allegations are true.

The day may come, however, when a scam artist-drug company short seller will fabricate a whistleblower case out of thin air. And, like Mr. Olagunju's case, it may start with a posting to Cafepharma and be picked by Rost. I am glad, therefore, that Rost followed my advice and my lead -- I sent him a phone number for Mr. Olagunju -- made some calls, checked sources and found real people and real facts.

Others in the blogosphere may not be so diligent in the future

Do You Prefer Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?

You may not have noticed, but lately Pharma Giles and I have been having conversations through our respective blogs. There's been water under the bridge in our relationship, but until now none of that water has been worthy of escalating to a higher level of open discussion.

I just noticed that Giles recently characterized my blog adventures as a modern-day Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story (see "Sticks and Stones..."). Pharma Marketing Blog, Giles said, was Dr. Jekyll and Pharma Blogosphere was Mr. Hyde.

Now that's an analogy I can work with!

We all have our Jekyll and Hyde sides -- that's what makes Robert Louis Stevenson's story so interesting and appealing. Even Big Pharma has a Jekyll (R&D) vs. Hyde (Marketing) thing going on (see "Pharma's Jekyll & Hyde").

Most people would cast Hyde as evil (dark) and Jekyll as good (light). That's how Giles meant to use the analogy to compare Pharma Marketing Blog to Pharma Blogosphere. Now that I think of it, Pharma Blogosphere is dark and Pharma Marketing Blog is light.

Mr. Hyde just wants to have fun! He parties, he buys drinks for everyone, gets into barroom fights, and he makes the girls giggle (before he strangles them, that is). Jekyll stays at home and ponders the weighty issues of mankind -- boring!

Just like Dr. Jekyll created Mr. Hyde, I created Pharma Blogosphere. And for the same reason: I wanted to have some fun, but did not want to sully my Dr. Jekyll -- Pharma Marketing Blog -- reputation. Of course, I am not hiding the fact that one and the same person writes both blogs.

As Mr. Hyde I'm buying drinks for everyone here at Pharma Blogosphere by writing stories about what my blogger buddies are up to and providing all kinds of links to their blogs. And I invite them to party with me here by submitting comments and linking back to me. It's kind of like a celebrity roast at the Friar's Club, except PG Rated. Sorry, if I strangle some of you in the process. Get over it already, like Giles and I did!

Of course, when it gets too hot over here and "the man" is on my trail, I skeedaddle over to Pharma Marketing Blog and seek the safety with Dr. Jekyll. At least he's respected!

Would it be cool if we all let out our Mr. Hydes? Hmmmm... I shudder to think about the consequences!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Book: Whistleblowing for Dummies

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Key Phrases: Pfizer, Question Authority (more...)

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Webinar: How to Become a Successful Pharma Whistleblower

More and more "whistleblowers" are coming forward in the pharmaceutical industry after years and years of going along with the flow, breaking the law like everyone else. Usually, they blow the whistle just before they are fired or are expected to lose their jobs because of mergers or downsizing.

"Timing is everything," says Sedgwick Knocks, Esq., attorney at Sedgwick Partners, LLP. His law firm has represented over 100 whistleblowers, many of whom are former pharmaceutical executives who either hated their new bosses, were too old or lazy to do their jobs, or just amassed enough evidence in their garages to allow them to retire early.

"These days," says Sedgwick, "mid-level managers are never assured that they will reach retirement. More and more, they are being marginalized in dead-end jobs or terminated just before they are vested in their retirement plans. Worse, with the current dearth of new products in their pipelines, drug company stock options are rapidly losing their value. It is essential, therefore, that every manager prepare for the day when he or she may have to blow the whistle."
The Pharma Whistleblower Webinar will tell you everything you need to become a successful whistleblower.
Date: Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Time: 1pm ET / 12pm CT / 11am MT / 10am PT
Length: 60 minutes
Speaker: Sedgwick Knocks, Esq.

ONLY $295.00!

Walk through each step of the whistleblowing process and avoid pitfalls in order to save time and money.

Here's what you'll learn:
  • How to secretly stash away incriminating emails and other documents and keep them safe in your garage for 20 years or more!
  • Learn when it is the right time to blow the whistle. Too soon and you won't be able to enjoy the benefit of having a multi-six-figure income to help you send your children to college or buy that new Mercedes! Too late and you'll be too old to trade in your current wife for a newer model and live to enjoy the other benefits of whistleblowing!
  • Learn where to invest your money so that you can weather the few years you may be without income after you blow the whistle.
  • Learn how to break the law just like everyone else so that you do not arouse suspicion. You'll learn how immunity will protect you from being prosecuted along with your cohorts who you blow the whistle on.
  • And much, much more!
If you register today, you'll get a free authentic QUESTION AUTHORITY T-shirt worth I don't know how many dollars!
Date: Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Time: 1pm ET / 12pm CT / 11am MT / 10am PT
Length: 60 minutes
Speaker: Sedgwick Knocks, Esq.

ONLY $295.00!


Thursday, July 19, 2007

"RLS Gene" as Genesis of New Requip Campaign

I couldn't believe my eyes and my ears last night when ABC News devoted significant airtime to a story that it claimed "will put and end to criticism of Restless leg Syndrome" or something to that effect.

In reality, this "news" item was a direct to consumer ad (DTC) for Requip, except without the fair balance!

But, more than that, the study behind the news is seriously mired in conflict of interest. Not only that, this study is likely to cause the greatest off-label scandal in history!

For more on this, see today's post to Pharma Marketing Blog.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

J&J Moving Towards "The Naked Pharma"

Johnson & Johnson's new corporate blog, JNJ BTW, deserves close scrutiny as Marc Monseau -- J&J's Corporate Communications Director and main author of JNJ BTW -- finds his "blogger legs" and continues to interact with other bloggers. It is truly an interesting experiment the like of which I haven't seen since the early to mid 90's when individuals within pharma companies launched and maintained their corporate websites with very little oversight from top management.

DISCLOSURE: I know Marc personally and have had several confidential discussions with him about blogging.
Recently, JNJ BTW was criticized by Jim Edwards of BrandweekNRX and compared to the Soviet era Pravda newspaper (read his post "J&J's New Corporate Blog: Is It Any Good?"). Marc not only responded to this criticism in a comment to Jim's post, but he also wrote a response in JNJ BTW itself (see "…And Speaking of Work") where he does a good job defending himself.

Not only is Marc responding to blogger criticism, he is also learning from it, I think. He agreed, for example, with my advice to include stories from J&J's rank and file employees (see "Advice to All Pharma PR Bloggers Out There"). Here's what he said about that:
John Mack also recently provided an assessment of JNJ BTW on his Pharma Marketing Blog. In it, he advised me and other corporate bloggers to try to bring in other voices from within their respective organizations.

Good advice. It’s actually something I’ve intended to do since I started JNJ BTW.

Just as there are “eight million stories in the naked city,” there are countless stories to be told by the folks who work at Johnson & Johnson or any corporation. I hope to soon have other people from Johnson & Johnson join me on JNJ BTW as guests to talk about some of the things they’ve been working on their personal experiences.
OK. I'll buy that Marc already had plans to do what I suggested. But I made this suggestion some time ago before I even knew Marc (see "A Primer on Pharma Employee Blogging").

Marc's reference to the noir film The Naked City -- which was inspired by 30's photographer Weegee (the photo above was shot by Weegee) -- is not only apt, but sheds some light on Marc's interests, which I know include films. It's apt because good corporate blogs have been described as "naked conversations" in a book by the same name. [Maybe Marc should rename his blog "The Naked J&J". Just kiddin' Marc!]

The Naked City movie is pretty gruesome as were some of Weegee's photos. Hopefully, we won't see JNJ BTW evolve into that dark realm.

I also hope that JNJ Blog doesn't go the way of pharmaceutical corporate Web sites. In the 90's not too many pharma C-level execs thought too much about the Internet and they were blissfully unaware that their companies even had a Web site. But they soon wised up and took control and what we are left with today are glossy online brochures without souls.

It would definitely be a shame if one day J&J did the same to JNJ BTW. I am sure there are controls already in place just as Marc says. I don't want to hear from corporate J&J. I like hearing from Marc, a real person who signs his posts and reveals snippets of who he is. I hope other employees at J&J will soon join Marc.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

It Must be a Slow Summer for Whistleblowers if the Best You Can Do is Cite CafePharma Discussions!

It must be a slow summer for whistleblowers when the best source of insider information you can muster are posts on CafePharma!

Peter Rost -- chief pharma whistleblower and blogger other bloggers love to link to and be linked from -- includes a couple of "insights" picked up from Cafepharma and easily overblows the significance of same.

His latest posts attempt to put Novartis in the hot seat (e.g., "Novartis - HR from Hell?" and "Novartis - The next whistleblower story?").

Rost merely offers links to Cafepharma discussion threads, including "Another Lawsuit Employment Retaliation Complain (sic)", which starts off promising enough:

"David Olagunju v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation

"Employment retaliation complaint stating plaintiff was terminated for refusing to alter safety data from the clinical trials for the drug Tasigna and for objecting to exaggerated reports on the drug. Paid download"
Several Cafepharma posters asked "Where can I get more info re: this case? Thanks!" and "How or what URL do I need to review this case.....does the FDA have wind of this????" All went unanswered as of this writing.

You can do a Google search and you won't find anything about such a case -- at least I didn't.

I did find out that Olagunju is a real person of some stature at Novartis:
David Olagunju Global Director, Statistical Reporting and Standards Novartis Pharmaceuticals Telephone: 862.778.3802
[Let the phone calls begin!]

He has also been a presenter at several pharmaceutical conferences.

But, is this a real whistleblower case or just a short-seller seeding seditious sallies against a drug up for review at the FDA?

Anyone serious about following up such issues to make a case for whistleblowing could easily determine if this case were real by examining SEC statements and other public corporate documents from Novartis, which must mention any legal actions that would affect the market for its stock. Of course, I am too lazy to do that, but I have an excuse. I am not a whistleblower blogger and I don't give a rat's ass amount of credibility to anonymous Cafepharma posts!

I guess I'm back on Peter's sh*t list!

P.S. I'm not ;-) See Peter's response and further inquiries: "The Novartis whistleblower story - is it for real?"

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ed Silverman...

  • Cheer up face / The war is past / The h is out / Of shave / At last / Burma-Shave
  • A peach / looks good / with lots of fuzz / but man's no peach / and never was / Burma-Shave
  • Does your husband / misbehave / grunt and grumble / rant and rave? / shoot the brute some / Burma-Shave
  • Don't take a curve / at 60 per / we hate to lose / a customer / Burma-Shave
  • Every shaver / now can snore / six more minutes / than before / by using / Burma-Shave
  • He played / a sax / had no B.O. / but his whiskers scratched / so she let him go / Burma-Shave

at Pharmalot...

  • Henry the Eighth / sure had trouble / short-term wives / long-term stubble / Burma-Shave
  • Grandpa's beard / was stiff and coarse / and that's what / caused his / fifth divorce / Burma-Shave
  • Missin' / kissin'? / Perhaps your thrush / can't get through / the underbrush — try / Burma-Shave
  • A chin / where barbed wire / bristles stand / is bound to be / a no ma'ams land / Burma-Shave

sure does...

  • Within this vale / of toil and sin / your head grows bald / but not your chin / Burma-Shave
  • Dinah doesn't / treat him right / but if he'd / shave / dyna-mite! / Burma-Shave
  • To change that / shaving job / to joy / you gotta use / the real McCoy / Burma-Shave
  • Don't lose / your head / to gain a minute / you need your head / your brains are in it / Burma-Shave
  • The bearded Devil / is forced / to dwell / in the only place / where they don't sell / Burma-Shave
  • In Cupid's little / bag of trix / here's the one / that clix / with chix / Burma-Shave
  • A shave / that's real / no cuts to heal / a soothing / velvet after-feel / Burma-Shave
  • Riot at / drug store / calling all cars / 100 customers / 99 jars / Burma-Shave
  • The wolf / is shaved / so neat and trim / Red Riding Hood / is chasing him / Burma-Shave
  • This cooling shave / will never fail / to stamp / its user / first-class male / Burma-Shave
  • The monkey took / one look at Jim / and threw the peanuts / back at him / he needed / Burma-Shave
  • Listen birds / these signs cost money / so roost awhile / but don't get funny / Burma-Shave


  • If you don't know / whose signs these are / You haven't driven / very far (No final "Burma-Shave" sign)
  • Round the corner / lickety split / beautiful car / wasn't it! / Burma Shave
  • That big blue tube / is like Louise / it gives a thrill / with every squeeze / Burma-Shave
  • If harmony / is what you crave / get a tuba / Burma-Shave
  • Said Farmer Brown, / who's bald on top, / "Wish I could / rotate the crop." / Burma-Shave
  • I use it too / The bald man said / It keeps my face / Just like my head / Burma-Shave
  • Drinking drivers / Don't you know / great bangs / from little / binges grow? / Burma Shave

'Round the Sphere: Commies, Canadians, and Death by Drugs!

This week, the Pharma Blogosphere was abuzz about the two death sentences handed down to two of China's former high-ranking food and drug safety officials. One was just executed as reported in the Wall Street Journal Health Blog and Pharmalot.

It is said that injection by lethal drugs is becoming the standard method of carrying out the death penalty in China (see "Chinese applaud ex-official's execution").

Meanwhile, other supposedly non-lethal drugs have lead to the death of a Canadian citizen -- "first clear-cut case of a death stemming from counterfeit drugs bought on the Internet."

Of course, a chief wanker at Drug Wankers couldn't hold back the gloating to respond to the age-old re-importation retort" "Oh, Yeah. If Canadian drugs are dangerous, where are the dead Canadians?"

Expect Pitts et al to refer to this case again and again and again and again... did I mention again? in the diatribes against re-importation.

Meanwhile, the other Peter (Peter Rost), was quoted in Forbes pointing out the irony:

"The FDA recently put out a warning on the dangers of Internet medicines. Peter Rost, a former Pfizer executive whose blog is an annoyance to drug execs, notes an "irony" in the situation: that the first victim of drug reimportation lives in Canada, and got a drug that is not approved there but is available to the rest of the world."
In his own blog, Peter suggests that rather than an argument AGAINST re-importation, this event is really an argument FOR re-importation!:
"So now all the reactionary elements in American politics will claim drug reimportation claimed its first life. I'm sure they think it is too bad it wasn't American blood.

"Of course there is a logical solution to all this. Make drug importation legal and regulated the trade, so that people don't go on the Internet when their money dries up."
Speaking of China, Canadians and Other "Commies"

Of course, Canadians are not really commies. They just have a commie medical system according to the wankers among us.

It's one thing to stretch the commie analogy to describe the Canadian healthcare system, but it's another to accuse J&J's corporate blog of being the "Pravda of J&J." But that is exactly what Jim Edwards over at BrandweekNRX did!

Ouch! Tough love indeed!

But let's look at the glass half-full instead of half-empty, shall we?

Did you know, for example, that Pravda is the Russian word for "The Truth"? I bet you dinnit! Marc Monseau, the author of JNJ BTW, might take some comfort from being labeled "The Truth of J&J." At least he wasn't called the "CNN of J&J," which might be a much less flattering comparison.

But Jim has a point. If a corporate blog remains silent on issues roiling around it, then suspicions are aroused. It's best to say something, even if it is to refer to the official company press release, which is some form of "truth" if not absolute truth. I suspect that's what Pravda would do.

Of course, this is not what we expect of blogs. But what should we expect from a blog like JNJ BTW?

You can read more about my opinion on that subject in Pharma Marketing Blog (see "Advice to All Pharma PR Bloggers Out There").

Friday, July 6, 2007

'Round the Sphere: Truelove, Girl from Google, and Other Cyberpunks

Christiane Truelove is not really a "cyberpunk," but she was a fan of the genre in the 80's. Personally, I don't ever admit to remembering anything I did in the go-go 80's!

The comments of a certain "Girl from Google" (GfG) lead Truelove to reminisce:

Back in the '80s, I used to read a lot of cyberpunk. Ms. Turner's attitude reminds me somewhat of that of the corporate antagonists found in these works of dystopian fiction. And every time I see another Pfizer acquisition, I wonder if the dark vision of international megacorporations ruling over wimpy governments will fully come to pass (yes, I know there are some out there who already believe this, but I would prefer to have a little hope about the matter).
Truelove made these comments in today's edition Pharma Blogs: Week in Review. Subscribe here.

Hmmm...! That puts a whole new dark light on Google, which, more than Pfizer, seems to be the evil megacorporation out to rule the world -- except for the quarter of the world controlled by China, whose anti-democratic principles rule over Google (and Yahoo! and Microsoft -- but Pfizer? Not so much!).

It all started with my Pharma Marketing Blog post about GFG's contention that advertising is "democratic." This struck me -- and many, many other people -- as the height of hubris, especially when Americans are currently dying to defend TRUE democracy and our nation is celebrating the 4th of July holiday.

Anyway, here's what Truelove had to say:
"Girl from Google" gets guy from Pharma Marketing cranky

When it comes to Google Health's account people, Mr. Mack has no mercy. "The Girl from Google" first came up last November after a presentation by a Google account representative at a Philadelphia-area e-marketing conference. Mr. Mack had criticized the presentation for using a theoretical example that if it had actually been employed in real life, would have violated FDA regulations. He also criticized the presenter's view that Google is neutral and does not have the role of enforcing the law.

Then another "Girl from Google" posted on Google's new Health Advertising blog about how the company's issue management strategies can help pharmaceutical companies manage the fallout from Michael Moore's SiCKO. Mr. Mack notes the negative reaction by other bloggers about the post.

When the "Girl from Google," Lauren Turner, posted an apology, she just seemed to take another step into the buzzsaw. Ms. Turner, Mr. Mack says, is "another one of those Google Health account people I choose to call 'Girl from Google' because of her apparent utter lack of experience and knowledge regarding health advertising." Mr. Mack focuses on Ms. Turner's pronouncement in her followup post that "advertising is a very democratic and effective way to participate in a public dialog." He points out that advertising isn't very democratic at all, as the advertiser with the biggest budget gets to have the loudest and most frequent word.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Bush's Pilot Suffers from Premature Commutation - Does Pfizer Have a Drug for That?

There's been some call for Bush to resign within the Pharma Blogosphere (see Peter Rost's post: "Mr. Bush - Please save this country: RESIGN!")

Some people are upset that Bush so quickly commuted the sentence of convicted felon Libby.

But don't blame Bush. I think the blame has to be put squarely on Bush's German "pilot."

Perhaps the pilot prematurely ran a program that was supposed to be run on the day normally set aside for presidential pardons; namely the last day of his term.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Mack and Meyer Clash with Publisher Over "Journalistic Integrity"

It all started with a simple, innocent post about doctors prostituting themselves to pharmaceutical companies (see "Pimp My Doc!") and a little offhand remark therein about the fabled "separation of church and state" at medical journals. Specifically, I wondered how an editor could shrug off $750,000 in lost advertising revenue because of remarks she made out of publication. Imagine what would happen if she dared publish her remarks!

That lead to a piece by Christiane Truelove who, as a trade publication editor, says she tries to live by the dictum "Buy our Space, not our words" or something to that effect (see "Christiane Truelove of MedAdNews Says 'Buy Our Space, Not Our Words'").

That lead me to explore the whole church and state thing more closely in a follow-up post to my blog: "Trade Publications Must Be More than Drug Industry Cheerleaders!"

That's when the proverbial sh*t hit the willing fan!

In my post, I quoted World of DTC marketing author Rich Meyer, who had some unkind criticism of DTC Perspectives (an industry trade publication): "This trade magazine is such a joke that nobody in the industry really takes it seriously. It's news is shallow and outdated and, judging from the list of the top 25 marketers, its selection criteria is based more upon relationships within the industry than what anyone has actually done, or has not done."

But Rich didn't get angry email from Bob Ehrlich, the publisher of DTC Perspectives. I did!

I won't quote what Bob said, because it was a private email (Bob refuses to submit comments to my blog posts like everyone else who really wishes to engage in constructive dialogue). Suffice it to say he was mad, defensive, and said he will never read my blog again.

So much for my tough love approach of trying to offer constructive criticism and open a dialogue about how to improve the utility of trade publications to industry readers.

My mistake was suggesting to Bob that instead of shooting the messenger, he should contact Rich Meyer if he was that upset about the quote. And contact Meyer he did!

Meyer has chosen to quote some of what Ehrlich said in email to him in his post "Attack from industry trade publication," in which you will find some choice words.

Meyer thought Bob needed some TLC: "Wow someone obviously is drinking too much caffeine and is in dire need of some great sex to relieve the tension."

Let's step back from the juicy stuff for a minute and look at the issues.

#1: How to Have/Not Have Constructive Dialog/Dialogue with a Blogger
Don't write him/her personal email messages to get your point of view across. Coin of the realm in the Pharma Blogopshere is reader comments that everyone can see and respond to. That's the kind of dialog we want! Speaking of dialog, did anyone listen to my podcast "Blogs vs. DTC: What's Best for Consumers?" which featured Bob Ehrlich as a guest? It was all about him and his views, which I compliantly set him up to deliver. I guess that "offer of dialog" was nothing more than chopped liver!

#2: Don't Confuse Blogging with Journalism
In one email missive, Ehrlich said: "You and John Mack make a good pair- you attack with no thought that fairness is part of journalism, even opinion pieces." This is a wonderful example of a common misconception and I don't mean the misconception that Mack and Meyer make a good pair. Holding bloggers up to journalistic standards is oxymoronic! Blogging is everything that journalism is not and more so. What blogger wants to be "fair"? What does that mean, anyway? I guess I am not being fair here because I quoted Ehrlich "out of context." If I quoted the context then Ehrlich would come across even worse. Therefore, I am being more fair to his image than if I quoted his rant in its entirety! BTW, I started my blog primarily to present my biased view, which is, by definition, unfair! Live with it!

#3: Bloggers are Not Team Players!
It's funny that Ehrlich says me and Meyer make great team. I hadn't teamed up with Meyer until Ehrlich began his rants and raves against us and put us on the same team! Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog knows that us bloggers are often at each other's throats and don't hesitate to put one another down, sometimes in subtle ways and sometimes not so subtle. It's a dog eat dog eat black kitty world out there in the Pharma Blogosphere. But back to Meyer and Mack: We've decided to team up at least on one project: more on that later. Stay tuned!