The Whistleblower: Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman
By  Peter Rost, August 25, 2004
By  Peter Rost (Short Hills, NJ United States)

This review is from: The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It (Hardcover).

I should start with a disclaimer. I'm a Vice President within one of the largest drug companies in the world and I have spent close to twenty years marketing drugs. So I guess I'm not supposed to like this book. But the truth is I thought it was fantastic.

First, for those of you who are not familiar with the healthcare industry, you should know that Ms. Angell is better capable of writing this masterpiece than any other author. She used to be Editor-in-Chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, which is considered the most prestigious medical journal in the world. Don't let her credentials scare you off, though. This is easy reading and the book captures your attention like a true business thriller, only this is real life suspense.

But this volume is much more than simple entertainment. It is quite possibly one of the best analyses of the state of the U.S. drug industry today, complete with footnotes backing up every statement the author makes. You will learn not only that in 2002 the top ten drug companies made a higher profit than the other 490 businesses together on the Fortune 500 list. You will also understand how the drug industry has been able to achieve such a business success and how this success, as is often the case throughout history, will likely be their downfall.

A political tidal wave is building which will forever change both the industry and many of its infamous business practices. It is sad to note that the drug industry today is equally poorly regarded as the tobacco companies, and this is a testament not only to the shortsighted foolishness of their management, but also to the fact that you can fool some of the customer some of the time, but not all of them all the time.

So is there no hope? Well, Ms. Angell doesn't only state the problem she also presents solutions and ends her story with several thoughtful suggestions on how to change the way we discover, market and distribute new drugs. Her advice is wise and absent of quick fixes. Only time will tell if there will be a movement so strong that it can defeat ingrained business practices of the richest companies in the world.

What may help is that the drug companies are their own worst enemies. They have antagonized grannies all over the US with their work to stop reimportation of cheaper drugs into the US, a practice that has been in place for many years in Europe. And anyone in marketing or public relations can tell you that no money in the world can help you win against millions of mad grandmothers.