November 7

Whistleblower: Confessions of Healthcare Hitman

This book is a blow by blow description of Dr. Rost's experience as an
insider–indeed a high-level pharmaceutical executive turned whistleblower.
Dr. Rost first blew the whistle on Wyeth's global tax evasion scheme in
which Wyeth made payments to its foreign employees to escape taxes. He then
blew the whistle on Pharmacia's illegal, off-label, marketing of Genotropin,
a human growth hormone. When Pharmacia was swallowed up by Pfizer, his
situation dramatically worsened–except for his savvy inroads with the media
and politicians. Dr. Rost focused mainly on the lie promoted by Big Pharma
about the invented danger of reimportation of prescription drugs.

Although most of the book describes one man's struggle against corporate
hard ball tactics and intimidation–despite laws protecting whistleblowers–his chapter,

How Corrupt Is the Drug Industry? provides the milieu in which this industry operates. Giant pharmaceutical corporations that once were held in high esteem,  have earned criminal wrap sheets–much like mobsters, not life-savers:

Below is a partial list of pharmaceutical corporate wrongdoing described in Peter Rost's book:

In 2001: "TAP-Astra Zeneca Pay Over a Billion Dollar in Fines"–re: criminal
 marketing of Lupron.

In 2002: Pfizer paid $49 million  to settle state and federal Medicaid fraud
 charges involving Lipitor.

In 2002: Schering-Plough signed a FDA consent decree and paid a $500 million
 fine–the biggest in FDA history.

In 2004; Schering-Plough paid $345 million to resolve criminal and civil
 liabilities for illegal marketing of Calritin.

In 2004 Pfizer admitted criminal marketing of Neurontin, agreeing to pay
 $420 million.

In 2003: Bayer pled guilty to violating the federal Prescription Drug
 Marketing Act, paying $257 million including a criminal fine for its
 marketing of Cipro.

In 2004, Merck withdrew its lethal painkiller, Vioxx. Estimates are that it
 would cost the company $50 billion.

In 2004: The IRS served Merck with a "preliminary notice of deficiency"
 that could lead to $2.04 billion.

In 2003: GlaxoSmithKline shareholders questioned GSK CEO, Jean-Pierre
 Garnier, about his pay package to which he responded: "I am not Mother
GlaxoSmithKline also ran afoul of the IRS–it is facing a demand for $7.8
 billion in backdated taxes and interest.

In 2003, GSK signed a corporate integrity agreement and paid $88 million in
 a civil fine for overcharging Medicaid for the antidepressant, Paxil and
 nasal-allergy spray, Flonase.

In 2004; New York State Attorney General slapped GSK with fraudulent
 marketing of Paxil–the company settled and posted its previously
 concealed pediatric clinical trial data.

In 2005 the Justice Department announced that GSK had paid "over $150
 million to resolve allegations of violations to the False Claims Act through
 fraudulent drug pricing and marketing."

In 2004 Bristol-Myers Squibb was ordered by the Securities and Exchange
 Commission to pay $150 million to settle charges of inflating its revenue by
 $1.5 billion in 2000 and 2001.
A separate criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney General's Office in
 NJ resulted in the indictment of two executives for securities fraud–the
 company agreed to pay $300 million to shareholders.

In 2000: Wyeth signed an FDA Consent Decree and paid $30 million.
In 1997, Wyeth, after pulling Pondimin and Redux off the market because of
 heart valve damage, the company was forced to set aside $21.1 billion to
 settle "fen-phen" liability cases.

In 2005: Serono Laboratories (Switzerland) agreed to pay $704 million to
 resolve criminal and civil charges in connection with the marketing of
 Serostim, an AIDS drug. The company also pled guilty to  marketing

In 2005: Eli Lilly pled guilty and paid $36 million for its illegal  marketing of Evista for off-label uses.

On Sept. 8 Public Broadcasting System (PBS) broadcast  a report in a new series–
America's Investigative Reports– "A Bitter Pill" showing other corrupt practices by
this industry, the harm suffered by human beings:
 "Every prescription medicine you take is tested on humans before it's
 approved for sale and use by the Food and Drug Administration.  But if you
 assumed those tests are always done smartly, safely and ethically under the
 watchful eye of expert regulators, you would be very, very wrong.  Perhaps even dead wrong."

Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav


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