The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most profitable, both in America and around the world. But recently in the US, fines for malfeasance have stained its image.

We speak with Dr. Peter Rost, who worked inside the pharmaceutical industry for decades. He was a vice president at Pfizer when he saw first-hand how pharmaceutical marketing can cross the line.

After he blew the whistle on illegal marketing practices, Dr. Rost lost his job in the drug industry. We discuss his memoir, Whistleblower: Confessions of a Health Care Hitman, and get his critical perspective on the business of prescription drugs.

Guest: Peter Rost, MD, former vice-president of Pfizer. Author of Whistleblower: Confessions of a Health Care Hitman and a novel, Killer Drug. His blog is:

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  1. Solon Liberman

    I enjoyed the Peter Rost program,but the one thing that I found most annoying was the constant repetition of Mr. Rost’s credentials as well as the titles of his books.
    I lost count of the repetitions and feel that you are pushing the advertising envelope too far. Remember this is Public Radio.

  2. chris

    Thank you so much for this show. I take the words of a retired pharmacist and a former pharma VP over the self-serving words of the pharmaceutical industry any day. It is so very difficult for Americans to hear of the behind the scenes operations of how powerful corporations operate, with the help of the Senate. Unfortunately, like a previous poster said, you risk getting labeled as ‘unamerican’ for following the truth.

  3. L. H.

    What a hack job and total indictment of the “evil drug companies!”
    I’m sure some of what Dr. Peter Ross said is true and the rest he “thinks” is true, but hey, I’m not so naive as to accept it all because he obviously has an ax to grind and besides I always FOLLOW THE MONEY — no doubt he’s using a wheelbarrow on his trips to the bank!
    His view is totally one-sided — SURPRISE! As for the answer to the question he did NOT answer, why we pay more for our drugs — other countries put CAPS on drug prices (and thus WE subsidize their costs), we have the highest number of attorneys percapita in the world and, despite the benefits of tax breaks in Puerto Rico, our drug companies have to deal with a very burdensome and confiscatory tax system. They do spend enormous amounts on advertising, but that is to encourage the sales necessary to overcome these hurdles!
    You did a tremendous disservice to your listeners with this biased show because the pharmaceutical industry is constantly labeled by socialists in this country as evil, along with “big oil.” You’ve now confirmed in their minds that any trust they may have had in the American pharmaceutical industry and the FDA is baseless! Way to go!
    No doubt you folks will continue to beat the drum for socialized medicine in the US — but no less than the anything but conservative Kaiser Family Foundation’s study showed that the actual uninsure number of Americans is between 8 and 13 million, not 45 to 50 million. Yeah, I’m really looking forward to the government’s takeover of health care. It does such a “wonderful” job — like dealing with Katrina, running the VA and of course the “war on povery!” Since LBJ, we’ve spent 6 to 7 TRILLION dollars, but do we have any fewer poor? As Jesus said, “You will always have the poor…”
    L. H.
    (Disclaimer: I am not and have never been employed in the pharmaceutical industry and I have no direct investment in the industry. I worked 25 years as a CFP and am a lifelong believer in capitalism.)

  4. G.T.

    I enjoyed the program with Mr. Rost. One question and one comment I would have liked to have posed:
    If advertising and promotion were removed from the price of a drug, how much cheaper would it be? Perhaps it would be fair to factor in the drop in profits from the decrease in inappropriate sales of the drug.
    The comment, Joe, I suppose is not an on-air one: I detected a tone of sympathy in your voice, Joe, for Mr Rost’s current unemployability. Personally, if I had made $600,000 for two years straight while doing nothing and used the time to invest wisely, I would do nothing but volunteer work for the rest of my professional life. Perhaps he should consider using his obvious talents to back a little by developing a not-for-profit company to distribute and perhaps even develop drugs. OK… stepping off my soap box now. Guess I was catapulted back to my years in Medical Committee for Human Rights.
    Keep up the good work and take care!

  5. R.

    Thank You, Joe and Terry for Saturday’s Radio program. This subject has made me angry for many years. I just wish that every American in the US could have heard your show today. Too bad you cannot send a copy to all our congressmen and Senators, and the President. I understand the the Pharma Co. are the second biggest contributors to re-election. R.

  6. R.S.

    I always listen to your show. I was truly astounded to hear Dr. Peter Rost on your radio show. My first thought was that you’re risking your careers to have such an honest guest on! My second thought was that this material will be buried in the media and never heard of again. My third thought is that I hope you can spread this show around so that the material becomes more mainstream.
    I’m horrified to know that the pharmacy industry is backing Hilary Clinton. Is this never going to end?
    I love your show. This is the first time I have ever felt so strongly about a presentation that I had to respond. Thank you! From a fellow Tar Heeler who just voted for Barack Obama. I’m cynical enough to think it will make no difference though. R.S.

  7. jr

    Speaking as a retired pharmacist, the key take-aways from this interview are:
    1) many, if not most, Rx drugs (both intermediates and finished compounds) that Americans buy inside this country are manufactured overseas and imported to the US where they receive US labelling;
    2) for over 20 years FDA has done a better job misleading the public about foreign source drug quality than it has in assuring independent review and control of the new drug approval process, and assuring that good manufacturing practices are met.
    Personally, I would rather buy a medicine from a Health Canada or European community approved source than from an FDA approved source.
    I was amused by Dr. Rost’s comment that he doesn’t know what to make of the fact that Mrs. Clinton has taken serious money from Pfizer and other drug companies. I think he and we know all too well what this means: more Congressional protection for Big Pharma at the cost of our pocketbooks and our lives.

  8. lpm

    Just heard Peter Rosts inteview (4/26). What a breath of fresh air….a truthteller!!!The healthcare industry is fraught with so much deception….he deserves all the support we can give him for his exposure of the lies. My fear is that not enough people are “listening” but let’s keep talking anyway and hope that some of it sinks in! Thank you NPR and Mr. Rost!!!!

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