Life is Tough All Over

The NYT runs a moderately interesting story about a sort of whistle-blower at Pfizer, Dr. Peter Rost, a Vice-President for Marketing, who quite naturally is getting the cold shoulder from the company after saying it charges too much for drugs (some kind of marketing!). I say “sort of” because from what's in the article, At Pfizer, the Isolation Increases for a Whistle-Blower, Dr. Rost is more of a corporate critic of overcharging for drugs than an actual exposer of illegality, which is what I take whistle blowers usually to be.

Pfizer is afraid to fire him, either for fear of bad publicity, or for some murky legal reasons having to do with a Justice Department “investigation into its marketing of genotropin, the growth hormone Dr. Rost was responsible for selling at Pharmacia.” So meanwhile he gets put into corporate Siberia, what we used to call “the office with the dog”. This sort of thing happens; I recall one case in Treasury, long ago, where the politicals tried to get rid of a high civil servant they mistrusted for political reasons by assigning him to log all uses of the photocopier. Didn't work — he said they'd be gone in four years….

But back to the NYT story. The most interesting item is the amazing fact in the next to last paragraph. I would imagine that in these days of title inflation, VP's for Marketing must be quite numerous. I might have guessed that at a major subsidiary of a big drug company, a higher middle manager might pull down $150-200,000, perhaps with some bonus in good years. But no. The NYT reports that Pfizer is paying Dr. Rost $600,000 year — no wonder he's willing to stick it out and do nothing!

$600,000 per year for a Marketing VP. If they can afford that, doesn't it suggest that the drugs must be seriously overpriced?

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2 Responses to Life is Tough All Over

  1. bigd504 says:

    I didn’t wince so much at the salary but his statement that he wanted to stay for at least another year so that he would be fully vested in Pfizer’s pension program.

  2. Shayne says:

    For those who missed it there was a truly great piece of investigative journalism done by NPR on the whole Merck Vioxx coverup. Some of the details in that story about how drug companies do their marketing to doctors also suggest why newer drugs under patent protection are so expensive.

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