A mere $2.3 billion later…

J0211960262As one who has written countless press releases during the decades I worked in public relations, I just love picking through other people’s press releases now.  I can smell a spin a mile away, and I’m always curious about translating the spin back into The Truth when corporations attempt to communicate with the media.

That’s why I laughed right out loud (giving Lily the Lap-Napping Cat a severe fright) when I read Pfizer Inc.’s recent press release about their rosy future ahead partnered with their new BFF, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. Buried in the depths of this rambling release (and didn’t their Communications staff learn in PR school to keep these bloody things to one page max?) is the news that Pfizer has just formed something called an “Executive Compliance Committee”.

Let’s explore what this means.  Pfizer, the world’s biggest drug company, has been in the news lately because of what investigative journalist Ed Silverman on his always-intriguing Pharmalot website describes in this fashion:

“This innovative notion comes hard on the news that Pfizer paid a record-setting, ground-breaking, chair-swiveling, eye-rolling, jaw-dropping, $2.3 billion fine for illegally marketing several drugs, including Bextra, Zyvox, Geodon and Lyrica, over several years – even as other corporate integrity agreements were already in force.” 

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What drug company sales reps wrote on their BlackBerries

 blackberry office

  • A psychiatrist, originally skeptical about prescribing the powerful anti-psychotic drug Seroquel to his patients, becomes a super-prescriber who is rewarded by the drug’s manufacturer with generous $1,500 speaking engagements.
  • a neurologist jokes that she doles out so much Seroquel for her migraine patients that the drug company probably thinks she’s a psychiatrist;  she is rewarded with free trips to Scotland and Spain by the company.
  • a  busy physician has no problem leaving patients to stew in the waiting room while he listens to a pitch about Seroquel from a drug rep. “Dr had 3 patients waiting but did sit down with me x 25 minutes,” the rep wrote in her daily call notes.  Continue reading