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BMS Braces for Tell-All Book by Abilify Whistleblower

In January, Andy Behrman's non-disclosure agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb expires. This will leave Behrman free to market his new book, Adventures in the Drug Trade: I Was a Big Pharma Pusher. Behrman is best known as the author of Electroboy, the 2002 account of his years spent trying to treat his bipolar disorder with electroshock therapy.

andy_behrman.jpgHe later became a professional patient for BMS, and toured the country giving talks about Abilify, the schizophrenia drug that Behrman was taking off-label in order to quell his bipolar demons. Behrman says:

To have a behind-the-scenes look at their marketing techniques was more shocking than anything I've ever experienced.
Well, maybe. It will certainly be interesting to get Behrman's take on the $515 million settlement that BMS was forced into by federal prosecutors after the company was caught marketing the drug illegally for pediatric use and dementia-related psychosis. Here's more background on the content of the book. And here's Behrman's own take on his experience with Abilify (he hated it, which doesn't bode well for BMS...).

But the PR folks at BMS need not spoil their New Year's Eve celebrations by stressing over Behrman's impending book (even though Matt Damon and Brad Pitt's production companies have been looking at possibly turning the tale into a movie). The fact is that tell-all tomes by ex-drug reps have not fared very well in the marketplace. Here's a selection of memoirs by ex-drug company employees. The one thing they all have in common? None of them were huge hits:

  • Jamie Reidy, Hard Sell; The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman This is a very funny book and a must-read for anyone ever employed by Pfizer, especially if you were a sales rep. Reidy claimed he sold the rights to the movie of the book (and it apparently has a production company attached), but the film has yet to appear.
  • Kathryn Slattery-Moschkau, Side Effects, a movie starring Katherine Heigl This ex-Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson rep had the good luck to cast Heigl before she became famous in her indy movie Side Effects. The conceit of the film is that Heigl is a terrrible sales rep until she decides to simply tell doctors the truth about the drugs she's selling. At that point, she succeeds beyond her wildest dreams and no longer wants to leave the industry she came to hate. The movie was terrible, and no one saw it.
  • Gwen Olsen, Confessions of an Rx Drug Pusher; God's Call to Loving Arms The strangest of the bunch: This ex-Johnson & Johnson and BMS rep has essentially the same story as Reidy and Moschkau: entered the drug biz as a rep, became alienated by all the lying. Saw the light. Olsen's twist is a religious one. She has a couple of YouTube videos on her site where she talks in relatively nuanced detail about exactly what she did as a rep and how she spun doctors around questions about side effects.
  • Peter Rost, The Whistleblower; Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman The former Pfizer vp's tale of how he was fired by Big Blue after complaining that the company was marketing human growth hormone to anti-aging quacks. A fascinating account if you're interested in the internal machinations of big companies who are subject to qui tam suits, but the mass reading public largely yawned at its publication.
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