As reported in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, advocacy for drug importation and bulk purchasing came from an unlikely source during this year’s Cover the Uninsured Week. Dr. Peter Rost, vice president of sales for Pfizer Inc., called the leaders of pharmaceutical companies “dinosaurs who are committing financial suicide” for opposing low-cost drugs in the United States.
Rost said, “Getting drugs to people who need them is about right and wrong…. When millions of uninsured older or poor Americans get sick because they can’t afford their medications, that is morally wrong.”
Rost went on to discuss bulk purchasing, the price-lowering provision his company successfully squelched from last year’s Medicare bill:
Most Americans pay prices similar to those in Europe, negotiated by insurers who buy in bulk, Rost said. “It’s the uninsured who pay the full price — twice what you’d pay in Europe. Everybody negotiates bulk prices for bulk deliveries, everybody but the United States.”
Rost has been speaking out against Bush administration health care policies backed by his employer since last September and twice testified before Congress in favor of legalizing drug imports, not only for moral reasons, but because it’s good for business. Rost claims he once doubled sales in Nordic countries for a pharmaceutical company he previously worked for after he lowered prescription drug prices.
The Star Tribune notes that Pfizer has written two letters to members of Congress urging them to ignore Rost’s opinions.