Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman
by Peter Rost (Author)
A number of books critical of the pharmaceutical industry have recently been published, but none has been an exposé written by a senior executive of one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. The Whistleblower is at once an unmasking of how corporations take care of malcontents and a gripping story of one man’s fight to maintain his family and his sanity. Starting in 2003, the book details the illegal, even criminal business practices the author witnessed at his corporation, as well as his crusade to legalize the reimportation of drugs. It also explains how in this post-Enron world whistle-blowers can’t simply be fired, and what the author’s corporation did to coerce and silence him. A story of a battle that continues today, one which any American who takes or will take prescription drugs has a stake in, The Whistleblower is a powerful testimony.
- Paperback: 234 pages
- Publisher: Soft Skull Press (September 10, 2006)
Written for Whistleblowers
Dr. Rost knows what he’s talking about and he knows about the ways in which whistleblowers – of any kind- but particularly those in the healthcare arena are treated and harassed by the companies they challenge. Although the majority of Dr. Rost’s concerns center on tax and securities violations and drug importation, please keep in mind that there are many pharmaceutical whistleblowers out there who step up to the plate because they are concerned for people’s lives – lives that are literally destroyed prematurely by deceptive marketing campaigns, the intentional and willful act of failing to provide critical information to both the public and prescribing physicians and the wide-spread “individual” acts of both district and territory managers within the pharmaceutical industry who encourage and/or require their employees to misinform physicians by illegally altering FDA approved materials, utilizing studies that don’t apply to the subject medication or by simply bribing them with trips, speaking fees and expensive dinners.
Many of these whistleblowers not only lose their jobs and livelihood, but are harassed and stalked by private investigators. They are threatened by pharmaceutical companies’ inhouse counsel. They are told, as Dr. Rost was, “You’ll never work in this industry again.” This book confirms the best and the worst in people who work in the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Rost represents the best and some of his former co-workers, the worst. If you are thinking about blowing the whistle in order to save lives, to do the right thing, improve the lives of others – whatever your reason is – you should read this book first. Will it scare you? Yes. Will you think about backing out? Yes. Will your dear friends and co-workers lie in depositions to save their jobs? Yes. Will you be able to look in a mirror every day for the rest of your life? Yes. Will your children look up to you because you took a stand and did the right thing? I hope to God they will. And if they don’t, I will.
Dr. Rost’s book is, unfortunately, best enjoyed and understood by people either currently employed in the pharmaceutical industry, unemployed because they were retaliated against or whistleblowers from other industries. His writing is detail heavy – appreciated by an attorney like myself – but perhaps a little tedious for the casual reader. However, if you really, truly want to know what is going on at any of the mega pharmaceuticals firms, this book will provide you with valuable insider insight you won’t find anywhere else.
I’d also like to take my hat off to Dr. Rost’s attorney for his patience with his media-friendly and zealous client. It can be difficult for an attorney to see beyond the dollar signs of a settlement through to the heart of a client who is intent on bringing the truth forward – even at the risk of their own case, their own settlement. Most whistleblowers aren’t troublemakers. They didn’t wake up one morning thinking, “I’m going to start looking for something I can blow the whistle on.” They’re not gadflys. They are normal, decent people for whom the principle is thing. It’s right vs. wrong for them. They know wrong when they see it and they can’t look away. They can’t forget. They can’t go along with it. So they start by speaking up; hoping, against hope that their dissent at a meeting will stop the wrong. But it doesn’t. Little by little they begin to realize that they’re the only one in the room who has a problem with what they are being told to do. For most people, integrity has a price tag. For whistleblowers, it doesn’t. They may end up with a check in the end, but usually only after that suffering years of harrasment, unemployment or underemployment, depression, criticism from friends and family, and isolation from co-workers. How do you put a price tag on that?
Years ago, I spoke with Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, the Brown & Williamson whistleblower who put big tobacco and their lies on “Sixty Minutes” and whose story was memorialized in the movie The Insider. Our conversations took place years after he testified against big tobacco, after he had changed careers and was voted Teacher of the Year. The thing I remember most is that he told me that even years later, he was still be followed. Still being harassed. Still receiving death threats. I ask again, how do you put a price tag on that?
We live in a world where people are encouraged to drink the corporate kool-aid. Why? Look what happened in Jonestown? Pharmaceutical companies are just a corporate cult with market share as the savior, medicines as their demi-gods and doctors as their disciples. Read the book. May it help all of us strive to be better people – people who are willing to stick out our necks in order to leave this world a little better than it was the day we entered it. Good job, Dr. Rost. And if it doesn’t sound too condescending…I’m proud of you.
The Whistleblower – Most Excellent!
Speaking truth to power doesn’t get much more obvious than this. Well written, engaging, inspiring stuff by a honcho in the industry. If you like David and Goliath stories and suspect Big Pharma of putting profit over the health of it’s customers – this is your book. Peter Rost is a modern day hero IMO.