Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Peter Rost: Pharma's Black Knight


In the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," King Arthur, played by Graham Chapman, fights a duel with the Black Knight, played by John Cleese. It's a pathetic match because King Arthur easily chops off the Black Knight's arms and eventually his legs as well, which the Black Knight claims is only a flesh wound. Here's a bit of the dialog:


Black Knight: Have at you.

King Arthur: You are indeed brave, sir knight, but the fight is mine.

Black Knight: Oh, had enough eh?

King Arthur: Look, you stupid bastard. You've got no arms left.

Black Knight: Yes I have.

King Arthur: Look.

Black Knight: Just a flesh wound.

Peter Rost, a VP of marketing at Pfizer, must be feeling a bit like the Black Knight these days (Pfizer would be the King of course; "It's nice to be the King."). You may have seen Mr. Rost interviewed this week on
60 Minutes where he was critical of the pharmaceutical industry's drug importation policies.

"Pfizer just disconnected my cell phone and disabled access to my corporate e-mail account," Rost wrote in a personal email to friends Tuesday morning (see
Marketing Exec Feels Heat At Pfizer).

"I'm not that worried though," said Rost.

Yeah, just a flesh wound!

Rost, of course, "has . . . no substantive grasp of how re-importation threatens the safety of the U.S. drug supply," says Pfizer.

Pfizer may be referring to the supposed threat to our drug supply posed by terrorists. If so, they are playing the terrorist scare card to better silence all critics of re-importation, not just Rost. See "Terror Politics vs Drug Importation" for my thoughts on the unpatriotic tactic.

I call it unpatriotic because it is an attempt to shut down a democratic debate by invoking our fears of terrorism. Also, in so far as this tactic diverts our attention away from real terrorist threats, it makes us more vulnerable.


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