Drugs are Safe
Pfizer VP admits Canadian
Meds are no different
Canadian Press - WINNIPEG
— A senior U.S. pharmaceutical executive has broken ranks with
his employer and the industry and proclaimed that drugs
purchased from Canadian-based Internet pharmacies are
Dr. Peter Rost, a
vice-president of marketing with Pfizer Inc. at its New Jersey
headquarters, said European countries have been trading drugs
for decades without any safety concerns and there shouldn't be
any concerns with prescription drugs bought from Canada.
"Drugs from Canada are
absolutely, positively safe," Dr. Rost said in a telephone
interview with the Winnipeg Free Press from his New Jersey home
"What has been said [by
Internet opponents] about Canadian drugs is, quite frankly,
insulting, I would think, if I were a Canadian. Let's get real.
It's exactly the same product that the same [pharmaceutical]
companies are selling in Canada that they are selling in the
Dr. Rost said multinational
pharmaceutical firms are using safety to disguise their real
motive of protecting profits, adding it's only a matter of time
before the U.S. public and the rest of the business community
demand a stop to the price-gouging.
Dr. Rost's unusual candor was
welcomed by the spokesman for the Canadian International
David MacKay, the group's
executive director, said it's ironic that Dr. Rost is a Pfizer
employee, adding that firm has been the most aggressive among
the pharmaceutical firms in its attempt to stop the flow of
prescription medications from Canada to the United States.
Dr. Rost said he's been working
in the pharmaceutical industry for 20 years, mostly in senior
positions in Europe before moving to New Jersey to work for
Pfizer in 2001.
He said it's common for large
drug firms in northern Europe to import cheaper drugs made in
southern European countries.
"I never, ever heard
anyone, especially not the drug industry or any regulatory
agencies, ever say anything or complain about safety or was I
ever made aware of any safety problems when I was managing a
region in Europe."
Despite outward appearances,
Rost insists he wants to keep his job as vice president for
endocrine care at Pfizer. He said he is speaking for himself,
exercising what he calls his First Amendment rights to free
speech. Thus far, he said he has not suffered any repercussions
from his employer.
''I hope they will accept and
appreciate diversity of opinion," he said.
Pfizer would not discuss
whether it is contemplating action against Rost. ''Peter Rost's
views on importation represent his personal opinions. It's clear
that his personal views are not informed by the expertise of the
FDA, Pfizer, law enforcement officials, or pharmacists,"
said spokesman Paul Fitzhenry.
The company has taken note that
Rost is consistently identifying himself as a Pfizer executive
in public appearances. ''He is clearly identifying himself as a
Pfizer employee, while at the same time professing to express
his own personal views, and that does represent a
conflict," Fitzhenry said.
Asked for comment, the
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the
Washington lobbying arm for the industry, did not respond
specifically to the defection of one of its own to
pro-importation forces. PhRMA has repeatedly stated that
importation exposes consumers to a higher degree of risk.
Importation legislation is
stalled in the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist
has said it is ''doubtful" a vote will be held on the issue
before Election Day.
It is far from clear that Rost,
a midlevel executive, can influence the outcome. He has a
medical degree from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. He
began a career in pharmaceutical advertising before moving to
leadership positions in drug companies in Europe and the United
States over the last 14 years. After he left Wyeth in 2001, he
went to work for Pharmacia
Corp., which was purchased by Pfizer in 2003. Rost said on
his resume that he led a team that tripled sales of a growth
hormone, Genotropin, from 2000 to 2003.
His experiences in Europe
convinced him that importation from other Western countries can
be done safely, he said. So-called ''parallel traders" in
Southern Europe routinely ship to countries in the north, where
prices are higher. The practice is commonly accepted as safe,
Rost blasted drug companies for
squeezing wholesale supply to countries where Americans without
prescription coverage are ordering at steep discounts in
defiance of federal law and the FDA. He did not mention Pfizer
by name, but the company that writes Rost's paycheck is the
highest-profile company cracking down on Canadian wholesalers
suspected of supplying the unauthorized American market.
uses Canadian Pharmacies?
Pharmacy Use Growing
pharmacies and online drug stores