John LaMattina, PhD, former president of Pfizer Global R&D, discusses his most recent book "Innovation, Medicine & Drug Prices" https://www.amazon.com/John-L-LaMattina/e/B001JSHGZ4/ref=aufs_dp_fta_dsk Please support The Business of Pharmacy Podcast™ by checking out our sponsors at https://www.bizofpharmpod.com.
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Pharma and Profits: Balancing Innovation, Medicine, and Drug Prices | John LaMattina, PhD, Author
Mike Koelzer, Host: [00:00:00] John, for those that haven't come across you online, introduce yourself and tell our listeners what we're talking about today.
John LaMattina, PhD: My name is John LaMattina. I am the former president of Pfizer Global r and d. I retired from Pfizer after a 30 year career there, and since that time I've been involved with the biotech industry, serving, uh, on boards and things like that. But I've also become an author and I've written a few books talking about the pharmaceutical industry and different issues.
Around that, and I'm here today to talk about my latest book, Farmer and Profits, Balancing Innovation Medicines and Drug Prices.
Mike Koelzer, Host: When people talk about pricing. If you can picture those people in your mind, who are those people that kind of get under your skin talking about this is the general public.
Is it some reporters that are trying to shove the mic in your face? When you think of somebody who is pressing this issue, who comes to mind?
John LaMattina, PhD: One of the reasons I wrote my book, uh, was because I was asked, uh, particularly during the pandemic, a lot. Drugs and pricing and discovery of vaccines, things like that. But what really irked me was that I was asked by a British journalist actually, who said to me, uh, in the first year of selling its vaccine, Pfizer will make, uh, 36 billion just in that year from the vaccine.
And then he said, uh, how much of that do you think they deserve? And that really, uh, drove me nuts because, people will forget how in the early days of the pandemic, in a place like New York City, people were dying on the order of 800 a day. So many people were dying every day that they had to take the bodies of the recently deceased and put them into refrigerator trucks.
The pharmaceutical companies and, while Pfizer and Madena get older credit, the fact of the matter is a lot of companies, uh, worked on vaccines. Obviously the latter two were the most successful, but nevertheless, many companies were involved in this. In fact, I would argue the whole biopharma industry.
Was working pretty hard on coming up with treatments, antibodies, and vaccines. And thankfully Pfizer Moderner were able to do this in an unprecedented amount of time, in nine months time from, from starting to work on it to, to the time when vaccines were being put into, into the arms of, uh, first responders and, and people working in hospitals and such.
It's just an amazing feat. Now, when I was asked the question by the journalist, it was, it implied that the industry, uh, was trying to capitalize on a pandemic and, and make money. And the fact of the matter is, uh, these were priced at a very reasonable price at $19 and 50 cents a shot or a total of $39 for your first set of, of two vaccines pales in comparison to even something.
The flu vaccine, which I just recently got, is my new flu vaccine. And Medicare will pay you like $75 for that vaccine. So I think that, uh, what I tried to do in most of my writings is to correct misperceptions and, and to show, uh, a different light of where drug companies and biotech companies are in the fight against disease.
Mike Koelzer, Host: If there was ever a time when you could ask or price something to the moon, Covid certainly would've been it,
John LaMattina, PhD: In the June before, uh, Pfizer Madda were able to launch the vaccines, there was an article in New York Times and, and the gist of the article oped, uh, from, uh, an author Elizabeth Rosenthal, was that, beware what you wish. And she went down the road and said, Well, if, if a vaccine is in fact found and found to be effective, the companies may charge as much as $500 for that vaccine.
And, she justified it based on, well, you know, you have shingles vaccines, uh, which cost in the order of three or $400 or, or vaccines for meningitis, which are also highly priced. And she said, These are lifesaving drugs. So, uh, and then she went on to say that, and of course, at $500, uh, a vaccine, these companies will make about 180, uh, uh, billion dollars just in the United States.
And, uh, that would be pure profit. And so, uh, again, went down a road and of course it wasn't 500 or 300 or 100, it was $39 for the two doses. Very respo. And that's by the way, in western countries and poorer countries, uh, particularly in Africa, the, uh, vaccine is sold at.
Mike Koelzer, Host: Those numbers, they're always. Nebulous to me when we start talking about billions and things like that, I remember Dennis Miller on Saturday Night Live one time, he said $50 billion. He said, Most people can't wrap their heads around what $50 billion is. And he says, Picture a billion dollar bill.
Now picture having 50 [00:05:00] of those things on top of each other. But here's the thing, it's hard to wrap your head around things, not because they're unfair, they're just so big. But when people start talking about how this company should have done that and that they should have done that, it's like, What have you done for free lately?
Or when did you take a cut of half of your salary to join this movement? You know, it's like at the bigger dollars, it looks good to start saying this should have happened and that should have happened. But when it comes down to the individual reporter or the individual complainer, it's like, did you give half of your income away for this cause?
And the answer's no, Of course.
John LaMattina, PhD: Well, you, you raise a good point. And, and part of the reason I wrote the book was not just to talk about the vaccines, but all sorts of other drugs that are important that have, uh, really changed the course of treating or curing diseases. One of the, uh, early things, uh, the first chapter in fact that I, I write in this book is about, drugs that treat, uh, hepatitis C, Hepatitis C for those who don't know much about it as a silent disease.
Uh, you get it through, uh, be in contact with infected blood, be it through transfusions or other ways. It is the leading cause of liver cancer in the United States because this form of hepatitis infects the liver and you get cirrhosis of the liver. You can get liver failure, you may need liver transplants, et cetera.
A few years back now, a company called Gilead came out with a cure for hepatitis C, a single pill that you took every day for three months. And, and this pill, uh, this treatment was superior to the existing treatments, which were, uh, uh, hard to take. Uh, mostly injections you took for a year. They weren't all that effective and they were very expensive.
Uh, this new pill from Gilead was cheaper than the existing treatment. Safer and in three months, your Hepatitis C is gone. And the potential need for a liver transplant, which can cost three, $400,000 a patient, et cetera, rather than extolling the industry for coming up with such a great drug.
The focus was on the pill because the pill cost a thousand dollars a piece and the, and the articles in, in, in the news car, which was the new face of medicine, the thousand dollar pill. Now, a couple of points here, Mike. Number one, that was the list price. That wasn't the actual price because companies, uh, uh, negotiate with payers, insurance companies as to what the price is.
So that's the first factor. But within a year, another company, Avie came up with their own version of Hepatitis C Cure, and suddenly there was competition in the market and the prices plummeted, and the prices came down to now where it's maybe $22,000 for a cure, which. F 80% cheaper than the old cure was.
And again, more effective than better treatment. But that doesn't get the headlines that all sort of dissipates. And so again, part, part of the book is to talk about things like that and to try and explain to people, yeah, it was a thousand dollars a pill. Yes, it doesn't cost a thousand dollars to make that pill, but all the research that went on into it and then SU support.
The pharmaceutical company, r and d Enterprises is not an easy thing to do. And companies, he said an interesting thing. Nobody will give away stuff half their salary or, or things for free. Uh, clearly these are businesses and the other misconception is that these businesses are overly profitable, uh, make more money than us.
And if you look at the pharmaceutical industry compared to other industries, it's about in the middle in terms of profitability, return on capital, et cetera. So, you said what really frosts me. Those are things that really bother me. And so when, when these occur, I try to, uh, counterbalance.
Mike Koelzer, Host: It seems like companies, maybe because the boards turn over so fast or something, or the leadership, it seems like companies don't really wanna save money.
Like, they'll be happy if you went to them after someone was treated for liver failure and they paid, you know, millions of dollars and then you say, Hey, we'll take 95% of that away by letting you buy this tablet. It's like they'll gladly take that in reverse, but it's like not too many of them seem to wanna do something, prophylactically or, , an expensive drug, which is cheaper in the long run because it's almost like they. They haven't shown us their savings. It's kind of a, a, a future savings, but it's not really easy to go into a boardroom and say, Look how much we save. We bought these expensive tablets. It's almost like that's a risk for the person saying that because they can't prove it.
John LaMattina, PhD: So here's, here's a bunch of things that have happened particularly in the last five or six years in the industry. First of all, companies when they come up with a price, just don't pick something out
of air. They do a tremendous amount of research called pharmacoeconomics where they [00:10:00] say, Okay, if you had a cure for this disease, what would it be worth to society?
And by the. If it's a cure, it's saving lives, making the patients, changing the whole life of a patient, et cetera, in terms of, of their health. And a lot of work goes into that. Furthermore, and this is different over the last few years than history companies, uh, pharma companies will then go to the, the payers, the insurers or other countries in the case where countries negotiate the price of drugs and talk about, we're coming up with this new cure.
We hope it'll be approved within the next 24 months. Here is the price range we're thinking of charging. And, uh, you get feedback like that and, and a lot of times now what a drug price comes out, uh, which might seem excessive, sometimes the payers will come and say, Yeah, we've talked to Pfizer or Mer, whoever, and, uh, we understand their rationale and we can support the rationale because what goes into that rationale is the number of, of lives saved.
Uh, the number of, what's something called quality. , life years, uh, that one has. So not just, uh, years of that you're alive, but you might be hooked up to IV twos rather real quality of life tubes. And, these are figures that get baked into the price. So nothing is just baked outta the air, but you touch upon something else.
Uh, value and the long term. All these drugs, particularly small molecule drugs like the one I just talked about, uh, from, from Gilead of Hepatitis C, these have a finite lifetime. They go generic, and when they go generic, the price plummets. The example I love to give is Pfizer's Lipitor. and Lipitor is a tremendously effective drug.
Now, it's been available for 25 plus years, uh, great drug to help prevent heart attacks and strokes. And at its peak, Pfizer sales were about $13 billion a year. Come back to your dentist Miller billions. uh,
Mike Koelzer, Host: Yeah. 13 of
those billion dollar
John LaMattina, PhD: 13 of those big, huge bills you're carrying around a year after it went off, patent sales dropped to a less than probably about 90% less than they were of brand name Lipitor.
But the generic form Atorvastatin exploded in terms of that you can now buy Atorvastatin for literally pennies a day. You, you'll, you'll see advertisements, you know, uh, 90 day supply for like $10, a ridiculously little price. I think more prescriptions are written for, uh, generic Lipitor, Atorvastatin.
Then, uh, most other drugs, maybe it's the top one or the top three, et cetera, pennies a day. This is, this is what a, a, a fellow named Peter Ksky coined as the Great American Drug Dealer. Yeah. You pay a premium price for the limited, uh, amount of sales you can have that are protected by your parents, and then a patent expires, and then suddenly these drugs become a lot cheaper.
And so, uh, when, when you talk about seeing the value, first of all, companies have to prove the value to payers. Something that didn't happen 8, 10 years ago now happens routinely and now has to show the value. But then you have to negotiate costs with them and, and come to an agreement that the cost is reasonable.
So, uh, it's, it's not this simple thing that these people are trying to gouge prices, et cetera. And in fact, payers, and this is another example I give in my book, they were, it's a new class of heart, relatively new class of heart drugs. Now they've been out for about five years. They are called PCSK nine inhibitors.
Basically, they help lower your bad cholesterol dramatically in combination with generic atorvastatin. And one of these drugs can lower your bad cholesterol to like 50. You know, for most people, uh, their normal, if you're normal, uh, just on statins, you can get it down to a hundred. So you can really drop this down.
And these companies have shown that these, uh, uh, drugs actually lower for people who already had a heart attack. The recurrence rate of heart attacks by, by a good amount. So these are valuable drugs. Well, when they first came out, these are drugs that have to be injected, by the way. So you have to go into a hospital, get 'em injected, uh, twice a month.
When these drugs first came out, they were priced at about $14,000 a year. And payers, balked payers. So we're not, we're not paying that only for the neediest people cause they were worried at a price of this nature. With all the heart patients we have in this country, the price would go through the roof.
So they actually prevented patients from getting this. Doctors had to go through hoops to try and get, uh, insurance companies to agree that, well, the prices eventually came down and now it is about 4,000, $4,500 a year, I believe. I say I believe because these drugs, all these drug prices are, are not publicly announced.
List prices are publicly announced and most analyses of people who criticize the industry on drug pricing only know the list prices. The actual net price, the actual price that a company gets is not public knowledge because it's a competitive, [00:15:00] uh, uh, process. And Pfizer doesn't want CVS to know they got a certain deal and Unitedhealthcare got a different deal, et cetera.
Is that convoluted? Absolutely. But that's how the drug system works
in this country. So here's a case where, because of pricing, people weren't actually able to get the drugs. And there's all sorts of things now that exist in, , this whole drug pricing and drug system that, uh, people don't appreciate or understand.
Mike Koelzer, Host: What do you think, John, are the worst optics and then what are the hardest things to do? Justify or explain because of those optics.
John LaMattina, PhD: Mike, I'll give you a great
example. the farmer bro. Martin Elli.
So here's a young man, very bright, who, uh, bought a company that sold a certain type of drug. The drug is called dra. Dpri has not been known for 80 years. It's a drug used to treat a certain type of fungus. I Most people who get exposed to this fungus have no problems.
Uh, but if your immune system, because your immune system just fights it off, if your immune system hosts are compromised, if people like AIDS patients or other, uh, immuno immunologic disorders, they will, if they get this infection, it could be life threatening. So this was a drug, like I said, it's been on the market for 80 years in about two thousand years. It was manufactured by, uh, uh, GSK and gsk.
It was only charging a few dollars for a dollar, maybe $2 for it, a pill. And, and, and they just wanted to get it off their books. They, they, they needed the manufacturing capabilities to do other things, et cetera. So they sold it to a company and that company immediately raised the price to $12 and 50 cents a pill.
Nobody really batted an eye. It's not that heavily prescribed or used, et cetera. And so it just went pretty much unnoticed. Hospitals basically sucked up the added costs. Martin Chelli saw this. He went and bought the company that had the rice to the dairy room and raised the price to $750 a pill.
And there was justifiable outrage. And this was used in headlines. All the criticisms are right. This guy bought this drug. There's no value added. He didn't come up with a new formulation or something. He didn't approve of it, just taking drugs and raising the price. And his response was, Well, this a life saving drug.
Life saving drugs are worth $750 a pill. Well, the outrage was palpable and, and, and justified. Uh, in fact, the CEO of Merck came out and said, Uh, because what happened was everybody lumped in. This is an example of how the pharmaceutical industry is out of control and raising prices. And, Ken Fraser, who was the CEO of Market Times, said, This is not us.
He is not one of us. He is a renegade who's doing this sort of thing. But that example, most people remember pharma, bro mon chelli, drug prices out of control
Mike Koelzer, Host: Let's say, John, that you're giving pharma bro advice before he did this. And he says, John, I just wanna mark this up as far as I can. There's some point where if you gave him advice, you'd say, Yes, you can move it up, but don't go up that high if you were giving him PR advice or business advice. and responsiveness to, let's say shareholders. How high could you go or at what area would you go before it goes into pharma, Bro. Crazy. And just moving something up the scale.
John LaMattina, PhD: He never would've taken my advice because I would've told him if his intention was to buy this company and raise the price any amount, uh, maybe a couple of dollars, a pill or something, I would, I've said, You're nuts. I would've resigned because it comes back to the Great American drug deal now where the wheels fell off nobody else was making it, even as this, a generic drug that you could have made and sold for, some minor amount of money, uh, nobody else was making it. So we And these people who, who got this, uh, fungal infection, And so he had everybody captured. Now, it also turned out, at that time, the FDA was very far backed up with applications for generic drug forms.
They might have been in the hole with about 4,000 applications. There might have been, uh, a dpri, uh, uh, generic applications that would've come out that would've un undercut the, and eventually, uh, uh, other people started making it cuz there was no nothing preventing anybody else from making it. and the problem went away.
But, uh, what advice I would give, I'd tell 'em to go do some other kind of business, uh, and, and not do this sort of thing
Mike Koelzer, Host: You would say don't raise it at all because it's always gonna look bad. Is it easier to come in with a newer drug, or why would you not raise it at all though?
John LaMattina, PhD: well, because actually it had just been raised tenfold.
Mike Koelzer, Host: Oh, I see. [00:20:00] I gotcha.
John LaMattina, PhD: Right? So already it was increased about, uh, uh, from, from a dollar and a half to
1250 or something like that. So, didn't make any
Mike Koelzer, Host: When you look at the big companies, it's almost like a democracy with the shareholders.
It's like the shareholders are kind of responsive to what they think is the right levels and who the right leaders are and what the right choices are. And that's kind of the stock price going up and down. So it seems like when these bigger companies are maybe doing something obscene, it's like, I'm just saying if someone says that, it's almost like, well, let's look at every single stockholder who's invested here and kind of get their take on it.
It's almost like they're kind of steering the ship.
John LaMattina, PhD: The big companies don't do anything obscene. When it comes to pricing, to be frank, uh, there was, you know, in the last 10 or 12 years, people forget that in the late nineties, pharma was the most admired industry of all the industries.
In fact, Merck was the most admired company for seven or eight years in a row, and fires was always in the top 10, et cetera.
And then various things happened. In fact, this was the topic of my second book, uh, uh, Con Farmer Restores Broken Image. Uh, and, uh, and I think companies got the right idea and, uh, are very conscious of doing what's right, not just for shareholders, but for everybody. Uh, I think the pricing of the, uh, vaccines is a terrific example of that, but more important to this whole argument is pharma prices. Now again, we gotta talk about two types of pricing.
The list price and the net price. The list prices over the last few years has not gone above inflation. It's only been about two or 3%, and that's the list prices. It turns out that there's now data that's appearing that over the last five years, net prices, the amount of money companies are getting has dropped a bit.
And it's dropped for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is in negotiating with insurance companies. They have to take cut backs into, particularly when there's competition in a certain drug class, they have to give back money to the, to the drug, the, uh, insurance companies. And so the net pricing is dropped.
Most people think drug prices go up and up and up, and the list prices due to a certain extent, but in terms of the net prices not, and they've in fact been declining, and this is why I wrote about a farm in Prophe. Nobody knows this sort of stuff. And, and when, when you, when you talk to people about them, they're sort of like, Oh.
I didn't know that. And then you give them actual data and you show them things.
We're talking about the price of drugs. Drugs make up 13, maybe 14% of the total healthcare bill. The rest of that is doctors, hospitalization, specialists, et cetera, et
cetera. I've already talked about how drugs become generic, and I talked about how Lipitor went from a, a, a $13 billion a year drug in the United States down to, uh, hardly anything. Well, uh, I, I'm of a certain age where, uh, most of my friends, uh, are facing things like hip replacements, uh, or knee replacements.
Hip replacements, uh, have been known for 40 years. Uh, and there's no new technology regarding hip replacement, uh, yet those prices go up and up. Hip replacement in the United States costs $40,000.
Uh, and by the way, uh, a hip replacement in England is about $12,000 in France, about $10,000. And in Poland it's 2,500.
and, and hip replacements don't go generic. These prices are gonna go up and up and up, et cetera. So again, drug companies are very conscious of their pricing, uh, concerns. Uh, they're also very concerned that they turn to profit, uh, to sustain their business as well as to keep shareholders happy. And I find it hard to believe that you can find many people who have insurance plans, savings plans, that a savings plan doesn't have some aspect of drug company or biotech company, stocks
in those plants.
So everybody is tied into all of this. Look, if the. a pandemic taught us anything. Anything. It's the value of drug companies and biotech companies in a time of need in a global pandemic, who else was gonna solve this problem?
You know, you're not gonna go to, uh, research institutes or great universities, et cetera.
It was the drug and biopharma industry that was gonna solve this problem and did it beyond the wildest dreams of everybody. I wanna make one more point about pricing, and it comes back to my, uh, Medicare, the fact that I'm on Medicare. So, uh, when you're Medicare, you get a quarterly statement, which tells you how much Medicare is paid for your, uh, drugs and procedures, et cetera, et cetera.
It's great, great to see. Uh, it turns out that [00:25:00] if you go get your, uh, covid shots or boosters at Walgreens and cvs, Walgreens or CVS will get, uh, $43 to administer that shot more than double the cost of a vaccine itself. Furthermore, when you walk in, you have to stay there for 15 minutes to make sure nothing untoward happens.
And so I challenge anybody to go with the CVS organ and I buy something. It is the greatest customer come on of anything. Right? And they're getting double the cost of, of so, so, you know, please give me a break. When, when we talk about the the big bad drug companies, it's
Mike Koelzer, Host: It's so hard to look at things like knee replacements and physical therapy and all this kind of stuff. It's so gray. Drugs are an easy target. It's really easy to look at something black and white and crisp and say, this price is this, that's too high.
John LaMattina, PhD: I think there's a reasons for that, and that is most people pay a certain amount for their medicines out of pocket, and they see the price and for the most part, for the most part, unless you've had a catastrophic injury of sort all of your, uh, anytime I've been in a hospital, I've never seen the bill.
It just got taken care of, right? I, and I, I was blessed that without any major surgeries or things that copays and things like, so people don't see those bills, they do see their drug price. And then I'm gonna pick on your industry a little bit and basically say, so why, uh, uh, you can get a different price for the same medication at the same dose from one pharmacy too.
Why aren't they all standard? Certainly Pfizer's drug price is the same if you get it in the Midwest and Northeast or, or, or whatever. So, that's another thing I have to say. Most pharmacists will, when a patient will complain at the counter about the price of their drug, will say, Well, you know, it's those drug companies.
Uh, when maybe it's, it's not quite the truth. And another thing that would surprise your listeners, uh, for the most part, on average, only 48% of, uh, the price paid for a drug goes back to the inventing company. The rest goes to the supply chain involved there as well. So there are other people sort of having their finger in the pie on this.
Mike Koelzer, Host: I've done close to 200 shows on this, and I don't think once a guest of mine or I have complained about manufacturers' prices. Part of it is cuz we're all involved because of the 4 0 1 s and things like that. And plus it's, it's hard to, you know, we just haven't, maybe I'm just not bright enough to really parse that apart. But the, average pharmacist, and you mentioned it there, the average pharmacist, our nemesis is the people in the middle of the pharmacy benefit managers
and In our pharmacy, John. We've been there for 70 years and, uh, 77 years. About two years ago, I had to either lock my doors and go out of business or make a change.
And the change I made was that our pharmacy doesn't carry any brand names at all. The reason being is because we were only getting paid 90 cents on the dollar whenever we bought a brand name. So if I buy $10,000 in brand name drugs, we only would get paid $9,000 a few weeks later. Now, Our complaint is not the manufacturer.
I don't care what that price is, whether it's 5,000 or 15,000 or 30,000, but the middle men, the pharmacy benefit managers are taking so much out of it that they're only paying us 90 cents on the dollar. And so here I am sitting across from a guy who has a great career in medicine and brand name medicine, and it's a sad situation that the middle has scooped that out, that I can't even tell you that I'm selling a brand name in my pharmacy.
Now I'm one of the only pharmacies in the nation that does that. You know, a handful of us. But it's just a sad state that that middle is so powerful.
John LaMattina, PhD: Well, I agree with that and, uh, we alluded to this earlier in, in the podcast. I will say though, that Congress and the Senate now in particular, Sort of come to the realization of what's happening here. Why are these people who aren't really adding a lot of value to this whole process, getting such a big cut of what's happening?
Initially, pharmacy benefits had a, a, a reasonable purpose. They would come in and try to negotiate pricing for drugs, but that was only a finite amount of money they could make. And now to keep their money, they're keeping more and more of money, which theoretically should be going back to the patients and the people who are paying for the drugs.
And a whole lot less of that is happening now than five or six years ago. And so
that needs to be looked at.[00:30:00]
Mike Koelzer, Host: John, your career with Pfizer, what did that job entail being the president of research and development.
John LaMattina, PhD: Well, it was, uh, a wonderful, wonderful job, Mike. It was, I think, the best job in the industry because at the time, I think Pfizer was recognized as the number one company. And, uh, I had, uh, probably about 13,000, uh, r and d people around the globe, literally, uh, of England, France, Japan, uh, California, Michigan, St.
Louis, uh, Connecticut, Uh, uh, very smart people, very hardworking people, uh, people, uh, who were very dedicated, who, who took that special knowledge they had, be it toxicology or clinical studies or biology or chemistry or whatever, and applied it to the unbelievable enterprise of discovering a new medicine that if they were fortunate, can benefit.
Millions and millions of people are around the globe. And I have to say, I'm envious of those who, uh, were working. Uh, and, and I still live in a Pfizer community. The labs at Groton, Connecticut, uh, although much smaller now, uh, are still in play. And, uh, and so I see them and I thank 'em for what they did.
And I, and I'm envious that they were part of, one of the most important times in, in the fires was history.
But, a lot of travel because I would try to visit each research site a couple of times a year. And the European ones a little bit more than that as well as the domestic ones.
I was on a lead, the corporate leadership team, and so I spent a lot of time in meetings in New York with the CEO and CFO and head of sales and marketing and chief, uh, uh, uh, a lawyer, et cetera, taking care of, of things like that, uh, representing r and D'S view. Uh, so yeah, it was hard.
But I'm not, I don't regret a day of it. I'm not complaining at all. It was a terrific, terrific job. And, uh, uh, like I said, uh, I wish I was part of it during the pandemic
because it's, uh, it, it was great.
Mike Koelzer, Host: Who gave the uh, It seems like somebody. Tell you, Hey John, uh, we think that we should be looking at this kind of medicine or helping this kind of disease state. Or maybe you had those ideas, it came from chemical stuff. How does that decision get made?
John LaMattina, PhD: Sure, great. It is based in two different areas. So for one thing, the corporation's needs, you know, it doesn't do us any good to come up with a medicine that the corporation isn't interested in, in doing sales and marketing. You know, they may say, Look, comp company Pfizer size. It may not, may be successful if all it creates are drugs to treat a hundred people here, a hundred people there.
So you have to have something that makes you have to have a major medical need. Uh, you have to have a good idea to come up with a new drug that would make a difference. Uh, that, that, uh, if there's already drugs that treat a certain disease out there, you better have one that's a lot better, uh, or have reason to believe it a lot better before you go out.
And then it has to be in the wheelhouse of the, uh, corporation. Now here's an interesting difference between Pfizer when I was there and now Pfizer. Now, uh, and, and I don't think Pfizer's totally unique in this regard, but when I was at the major areas of research, Neurosciences, a lot of which was depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, uh, metabolic disease.
This is what your diabetes, obesity, heart disease, uh, infectious diseases, antibiotics, antivirals, uh, antifungals and things like that. Uh, and a small effort in oncology. And that was our major. But over the years, great treatments came up for, uh, things like, uh, depression or anxiety or lowering cholesterol or, or things of that nature.
If you look at Pfizer's portfolio now, and you can do this, you go to pfizer.com and look up the research pipeline, you can see the whole thing. A major emphasis in oncology major, maybe 50, 40 to 50% of the drugs in the pipeline are for oncology. A big presence in vaccines. Thankfully, we were doing vaccines when I was there. Pfizer, a few years after I left, bought With.
And Wth had a vaccine division, so Pfizer incorporated that. Thankfully, uh, it turned out to be a terrific move. So vaccines, uh, a big immunology, uh, uh, group along the way, which balances out with, uh, cancer as well. And, rare diseases, which is a very important area, for fire as well. Totally different from when I was there. These are areas where new drugs, uh, are needed, areas where new drugs could get pricing if you're successful. To help, uh, repay your investment in, in r and d and, and in, in some cases, areas where you might not need huge chemical trials.
It's interesting. Uh, the industry has gone largely from a single pill [00:35:00] to lower cholesterol, uh, or a single pill to lower blood pressure, to now areas of focus because we understand more about disease now, we understand that breast cancer isn't just one thing. It's a, it's a constellation of different things.
We understand the same as lung cancer, rare diseases. There are lots of rare diseases where you can come up with drugs that are successful, can save healthcare, will save lives, will change the lives of people, and also save the healthcare system, uh, a lot of money. So very different, uh, uh, areas than, uh, when I was there.
Mike Koelzer, Host: So where did those come from ? Is it the C level guys and gals sitting around shooting the breeze saying, Hey, we should maybe do more of this? Or is it looking at competition? How do those conversations take place to say we should do more of this? Is it a consultant team?
Brought in? Where
does an information come
from? I think the corporation has a sense of where they'd like to be. Uh, and, and then we've got outstanding research scientists who will say, Hey, look, you know, we need to, uh, build up a presence in the rare disease area. Here are, uh, our corporate partners think that there are a dozen, uh, very viable, rare diseases that it would be great if we had an approach to treating that.
John LaMattina, PhD: Then the scientists will go in and then they'll look at what's out there, what the competition is doing that as far as you can tell, uh, what would be novel, what would be, uh, of value to patients and doctors and payers. And you factor that all in. Now, uh, come back to the pandemic again.
This was an interesting situation where, Uh, I read, uh, I don't know Albert Burrow as a ceo. We only overlapped a little bit and he was in a different division than I was. Uh, uh, but he wrote a book about his efforts, uh, which I've read. And, uh, it's a terrific book. And, but in it, he talks about how, I think it was on a Friday when the pandemic was breaking, he said, uh, we have to respond.
And he brought his team leadership team in and basically said on Monday, I want your best ideas.
And he didn't say, I want your best vaccine ideas. I want your best ideas on how we can help attack this and use it, because. The pandemic affected everybody.
And on Monday they came back with a, a list of things to try and they, they bandied them about, and uh, they basically already had a deal with this biotech company in, in Germany, biotech and biotech, uh, was looking at mRNA vaccines, and Pfizers was looking to come up with a new treatment, new type of flu vaccine.
And, and they were already working on ideas for that. And that the team came back and said, you know, we think of biotech technology. It's pretty good and might be able to be users. Now, unproven, nobody knew if you could even deliver an mRNA vaccine to the cell and manufacture, but, but, uh, the team did that.
They also, at that time, thought about antiviral drugs and one of the scientists came up, uh, uh, with, uh, an idea to resurrect a program that he had for a different type of coronavirus, antiviral agent. And, uh, they resurrected that, that turned out to be Pat Lovin. So, uh, there was, uh, again, push and pull both sides, but the science and the approaches and the ideas really have to come from your r and d.
Mike Koelzer, Host: Yeah, it seems it has to come there because if you had some industries, you might have a marketing industry or beauty industry or something where the CEO can just come in and spout off ideas and it can happen. You know, you can build this, but as far as the drugs go, it doesn't do a lot of good for the CEO or the C team to be talking about stuff when you're decades away from something.
It sounds like a lot of that has to come through this smart r and d kind of team. The scientists.
John LaMattina, PhD: In my day, uh, we would run a portfolio in different disease areas and what actual approaches we took were all really on our own. But we got a compound that was interesting, that was starting to go in, man.
Then the commercial people got involved because they would look at the marketplace and look at, uh, where things were going. And begin to talk about the kind of drug profile we'd wanna have and, and have input into the kind of clinical trials you'd wanna run. Obviously the FDA has to comment onto clinical trials as well and approve them as, but that's, it was usually at that interface once, once you got stuff into, into people that, uh, that we got, we got some, uh, play with.
Mike Koelzer, Host: In your days there, John, what type of person bothered you the most? What kind of coworker?
John LaMattina, PhD: When you got an organization of thousands of people, You're gonna have all the same problems in your organization that society will have,
Anything that you can think of. And when people might have had an alcohol problem or something, uh, you try and help 'em out, you try and get them the right treatment, et cetera, et cetera.
We had a pretty supporting environment at, at a place like five. [00:40:00] Certainly there were some lines you couldn't cross. If anybody ever lied about data, they were gone. They were gone the moment it was found out, escorted out, et cetera. Uh, but, but for the most part, you, you, you have to have an environment, I believe, that, uh, is accepting and, and doesn't tolerate, uh, inappropriate behaviors.
I have to admit, I, uh, I learned something very important. A lesson, uh, in, in my days when I was a senior manager, and you would get 360 degree feedback, and that meaning feedback, not just from bosses, but people who reported to you.
And I always believed in the view that said, treat people how you would like to be treated yourself. And I, I, a long time, I believe that till I had one, uh, a senior, uh, a member of my team who hated that, uh, who would, who would come into my office. Uh, and I, I would always say, If you need me, feel free to come see me.
But she felt if she was doing that, uh, it was a sign of weakness and, and didn't do it. But then she also taught me that, you know, John, sometimes I want to come in and I don't want to just talk. Uh, I don't want you to answer or solve my problem. I just want to talk it out with you. Uh, and, and that was very important feedback.
And when I came home, mentioned it to my wife, she said, Yeah, you did the same thing at home too. And, and, and that is, you come in and I say, Okay, well why don't you do da, da, da, da? And they feel like, Well, I, I kind of feel stupid that I think of that myself and, and I'm just trying to be helpful.
Mike Koelzer, Host: Did they forget that we're men? That's what men do. We're solvers, you know,
John LaMattina, PhD: Well, I think I had the same problem with men as well. So I didn't mean to, but this was a great case with the feedback I got, uh, uh, changed me
and change how I behaved such that I would have, uh, person, this person came said, and said, Alright, you wanna talk about this Cetera and that, And they would tell me, I said, Fine, let's go for it.
And we'd work on it from there. So, uh, a big organiz. You have to do a lot of different things. For the most part, we would attract terrific talent, Mike. I mean, I just, you know, we, we, uh, rarely had to settle on people. Normally we'd have trouble opening, trying to pick between two or three great people.
We were very blessed in that regard.
Mike Koelzer, Host: What was your. Negative trait as you looked inside of yourself, that made things difficult.
John LaMattina, PhD: Patience is not a strength of mine, I have to tell you. That's very real. Uh, and, and the other one is, is trying not to be over controlling. Controlling in the sense of trying to be all and be everything to all people, which nobody should really do. So I think those
two things I try to damp down.
Mike Koelzer, Host: What were the roles of people you reported to? And then what kind of people reported to you?
John LaMattina, PhD: Well, uh, as I, as I moved up in management ranks, I would get reported more and more senior people, and I would try and learn, uh, uh, from them. Uh, I had one senior manager, who was actually, uh, uh, uh, pretty forward looking, uh, uh, thinking and, uh, not necessarily a strength. I, I was, I was tremendous at executing, uh, and getting things done.
But, uh, uh, looking out to something, uh, you know, 10 or 12 years out was not a particular strength. this person, uh, had that, which was so, and I, I tried to learn. I had another, uh, uh, boss who could look at a problem and, and, you know, we'd have these team meetings and, and, uh, you know, we were wrestling with all sorts of issues and this senior leader was able to look in, look at it, look at that, and say, Well, ba boom, ba boom, ba boom, X, y, and Z.
And you look at it and say,
Wow, that's it. And we were able to sort through the extraneous stuff and really focus on what the real problem was. Uh, that was something I admired and tried to develop as well. So those were, were sort of things. Um, you know, I had some managers that weren't very good either.
And I remember being in one session. me and, uh, one of my colleagues started getting into it and this person was going, Oh, I like this good. Let's guys, let's keep going with this. And I sort of loved another thing. What a jerk. Right? So, uh, you know, so anyway, those are, you try and learn both good and bad from the people you reported to.
Mike Koelzer, Host: Did you ever have people that maybe in the manager's role that you just said, How the hell did they get here?
John LaMattina, PhD: You know, there's something called, uh, in the old days, the Peter Principle. This is probably 50 years old. Uh, the Peter principle was, You, you rose, keep rising to the level of your competence till you get to an area where you're not competent in. Uh, so, but yes, there were certainly people who advanced probably far beyond what they should have, but they [00:45:00] eventually got replaced.
I had one person reporting to me in particular who always wanted to be a manager, and I thought he was better suited to be a scientist, but at one point I had a need and, and I couldn't articulate to him, uh, easily, uh, that he couldn't succeed in that. And so I gave him a chance and then I ended up having to fire him eventually.
So, uh, that, that was not, uh, that was not fun. So you try and learn from things like that.
Mike Koelzer, Host: How has the new computing changed some of the things that, let's say Pfizer did? 20 years ago, and I'm thinking in terms of testing something, or let's say you had to use, you know, I'm just gonna throw it out there.
You had to use rats before and now you can take computers and, and do all the pretend down the road and the computer does all those things. Has that been a huge thing with your past or are people still in there, you know, doing the bubbles
the glass things?
John LaMattina, PhD: no. Artificial intelligence is changing the way everything is done from chemistry, even biology. How has it changed the speed of things up, given greater insights into designing molecules that might be more active, greater insights into how diseases progress, uh, et cetera.
At the end of the day though, uh, it's sort of like you can't, you can't take nine women and have them pregnant one month a piece and have a baby, nine women have a baby in one month. You have to go through the full process. You have to run through toxicology as the government requests for animal toxicology before being allowed to go into humans.
Yeah, maybe someday that'll change. Uh, but, but not for the, I don't see it for the most part. Uh, it's overly cautious, perhaps, but a caution I think that has to be taken. And then you have to go into humans and, uh, and, and even , you know, there's not one human, everybody's different. Everybody responds to drugs differently.
Uh, I know people who can take one drug without a side effect at all. And other people who get blistering headaches when they take that very same drug at that same dose. And
so, uh, you, you, and that's why actually most. Therapeutic categories will have multiple entrances in it. A few reasons for that. One entrance is that drugs behave differently in different people.
Uh, and so you want people to have alternatives, uh, not to be shut out of a certain thing, but also for pricing and competition. When you have multiple drugs in a class out there, pricing could come down quite a bit as well, usually. So, uh, but, there's still a finite period of time where you have to take to, to do things and going forward, and a pandemic was a little bit different. uh, uh, in that, uh, Here, uh, people, companies were working literally on a weekly basis, if not a daily basis with the FDA doing everything, uh, in terms of, uh, how we're gonna design this, what do you wanna see, uh, what would be acceptable, uh, immediate feedback.
And then the FDA bent over backwards to, to, in, in the 45,000 patient studies like Pfizer did, I think modern did 30,000 patients, uh, in a very rapid period of time to simply approve the drug based on symptomatics. So in theory, what you would've done would be to dose people and see in a community and make sure the antibodies were off and make sure that people who had higher antibodies weren't getting infected.
All they did with the covid vaccines on the first pass was symptomatology. 45,000 people, uh, placebo versus those on the VA actual vaccine, and see who got symptoms and they based it on that. Otherwise, they would've gotten out this quick. As they did,
but it worked, worked. It helped that it worked so well, as well as well.
Mike Koelzer, Host: What do you do now with your days? I know you're with some companies and maybe I'm guessing some consulting and things like.
John LaMattina, PhD: So, uh, yeah, I serve, uh, I have two main, uh, things. Uh, uh, one is I serve on the boards of five different biotech companies. Uh, and, and, and while there's usually work on board work through the year, uh, they tend to have four major board meetings. And they all tend to do them in the same months March, March, June, September, and then late November, December
between Christmas and Thanksgiving and Christmas.
So, uh, so those times are very, very busy for me. Uh, but then, then you're also on board committees, and so you have audit committee meetings or comp compensation committee meetings. And so, but those are usually, uh, uh, one off things that are scheduled on an ad hoc basis. Uh, so that's one thing. But then the other thing I've done since leaving Pfizer was to write, So Pharma and Profits is my third book.
Uh, uh, Drug Truths, Uh, uh, dispelling the myths about Pharmaceutical r and d was first, and then I already alluded to devalued and distrusted pharmaceutical industry to source broken image. Now, now the third one, and then I also, I write a, uh, blog that's carried on forbes.com.
Mike Koelzer, Host: I remember. [00:50:00] seeing that.
John LaMattina, PhD: Yeah, so those writings get me involved in all sorts of other things. Uh, uh, I usually give lectures. Pre pandemic is probably about six or seven a year, but even now, uh, it's coming back to three or four a year. Universities, national meetings where I could be a keynote speaker.
Uh, things of that nature. Uh, so that keeps me relatively busy. I, I, I, don't want to go back to how much I was working when I was at Pfizer. I mean, that was, that was pretty intense. Uh, but enough that I, I, I keep my hand in it. Uh, I'm able to lend whatever expertise I have to, uh, uh, companies, particularly younger people.
Uh, when you've been doing this now for 45 years, you've seen a lot, learned a lot, reached back into things and, and, and so, uh, uh, people seem to value, uh, that input. And I'm happy.
Mike Koelzer, Host: growing up I thought it'd be kind of cool, like if, someone could switch a job like 26 times a year. I don't have the skills, but it'd be cool if you could, you know, frame in a house for two weeks a year, drive a truck for two weeks a year, you know, do something with the Broadway orchestra for two weeks a year, but your stuff with the board, that's pretty cool.
I think that would be about the closest thing that would come to meeting different people and, and they all have different, you know, uh, different styles and all that stuff.
That seems pretty
John LaMattina, PhD: Absolutely, Mike. So a couple of things. Uh, I'm fortunate that most of the boards I'm working on do very different things. Uh, one is an oncology company. One is a, basically a, a royalties, uh, uh, company. One is a company that looks to build new companies, uh, and, and, uh, one company I work with is involved in trying to develop new ways to, uh, restore hearing.
And once a microbiome company, uh, the beauty of it is, so I'm still learning stuff. Even at my advanced age with all of these things, I'm working on boards with really smart people. Nobel Prize winners on some of them, uh, uh, people who have been CEOs of, of great companies. Uh, uh, so, so that's great.
And then I get to see cutting edge science. Which I normally wouldn't be exposed to. So you're right, it's, it's a tremendous, uh, thing to be able to do and I'm glad, uh, people have asked me to do it.
Mike Koelzer, Host: I imagine a lot of that's word of mouth, like, hey John, there's an opening on this board and your name came up, kind of thing.
John LaMattina, PhD: a, a, a, a little bit of both. Uh, uh, sometimes, uh, uh, people, uh, uh, know of me and, uh, uh, will reach out. So it's, it's probably word of mouth is probably not right, but more in terms of knowing they're looking and, and they know me from, from Pfizer or from my writings or things like, like that. So that
Mike Koelzer, Host: It comes up first that they're looking
John LaMattina, PhD: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. They're, they're looking for people and then, and then the type of person they're looking for. So, uh, if they, they want somebody maybe more with a legal background on their board or, or maybe, uh, a background in marketing, then, then obviously I'm not the person, but, uh, it's usually the early startup biotech boards, uh, are looking for people with both a science background and a commer a company background.
So I usually can fit in that regard.
Mike Koelzer, Host: These boards, is it what I'm thinking, where at these four times a year, you're actually in a room for a day or something and you're making decisions and there's a dozen of you in there with a few people taking notes and things like that. Is
John LaMattina, PhD: that's pretty close. Uh, basically you have the leadership team at a company in, uh, as well as the board. Uh, you'll have people coming in to make presentations, uh, about different areas, be it usually science and drug discovery or development. And, uh, and the board will react to it. An ideal board, in my mind, is one that serves in an advisory capacity, uh, and, and one that can provide guidance based on their experience.
Now, the most important thing, any board does any. I hired a ceo. And the CEO reports to the board. So you, you have to do that, do that in a diligent way. Uh, and that's important. But, then also if you have a really good leadership team for the company, it's more of a partnership as opposed to an authoritarian board coming in and making various demands, et cetera.
That's the ideal situation where you've, the board, uh, has a great deal of trust in the leadership team. I wish, I'm fortunate that the boards I'm on do, uh, and then it's, it's the partnership eventually you're, you're, you're representing the shareholders on the board. You're their voice. So you've gotta make sure that everything is going well and, and
that, uh, uh, you're taking that responsibility seriously.
Cause it's, it's, it's, uh, it is a legal position in that regard.
Mike Koelzer, Host: And I imagine you're seeing quite a bit of the supply and demand when it comes to CEOs and their compensation. You're hiring them and there's the supply and demand and that's where the wages are and stuff. And I imagine you guys are setting those too.
John LaMattina, PhD: Yeah, so that's a great point. I serve on the compensation committee for all the [00:55:00] companies I'm involved with and, uh, and, and depends on the company. So certainly there has been a tremendous demand on talent, uh, particularly in the Northeast, trying to get good people. And I'm not just talking about the CEO or Chief Scientific Office, I'm talking about key lab personnel as well.
Uh, and so what a, what a company with the conversation committee for a board will do is we, there are various, uh, consulting firms that are terrific in terms of, uh, providing data. Every company will create a list of their, um, Uh, peer groups and the board will approve that list of peer groups and you based the peer groups on size, uh, uh, amount of sales, number of, of people in the company, uh, type of company, et cetera.
Mike Koelzer, Host: What do you mean peer group? Oh, you'll, so, so if you're a, an oncology, uh, biotech company, you would, you would look to find a group of say, 20 similar types of, uh, biotech,
John LaMattina, PhD: immunology companies, uh, that, that, that you could say you're close to. You wouldn't pick Pfizer
as one, for example, right? And then you get all the data, uh, for their compensation, uh, at different levels. And you actually, and then, and then your own corporate philosophy for your biotech company could be, we want to pay in the median, uh, for both, uh, uh, salary and then, uh, uh, equity. Uh, some companies may be, well, we don't have a lot of cash and we wanna be a little bit less.
On the cash salary, but we will give more equity. And then you, you, you look at the grid and you see where that should be, and you look at your own status, uh, and then you, you, uh, make moves in that regard.
So that's how that's usually done.
Mike Koelzer, Host: You mentioned some of the qualities that some of your cohorts had of, you know, maybe looking a little bit further down the road and this and that, When you think of the CEOs on these boards that you're on, what's maybe the main quality or some main qualities that the CEO has maybe above everybody else in terms of what their
personal qualities are?
John LaMattina, PhD: Well, sometimes the CEO is the founder. The CEO is the one who originated, particularly in biotech. That's not an uncommon thing. Uh, uh, sometimes the CEO may be the founder is a terrific scientist, but not necessarily have the experience they may have been at an academic institution or just come out of an academic.
So they might look for somebody who's got experience. Being a CEO, uh, who's, who's, maybe their company has just been bought and they're, now, they're looking for things. So a variety of factors will come in depending on, on the need for that company.
Mike Koelzer, Host: have a few books and I know we talked about the one about the pricing of drugs. What are the themes of the other two?
John LaMattina, PhD: The first book I ever wrote was called Drug through Dispelling the Myth of Pharmaceutical R and d. And at the time I wrote this, this is in uh, 2009, roughly. Uh, there are all sorts of idiotic views of the pharmaceutical industry. The industry is innovative. The industry only cares about Me Too drugs.
The industry doesn't care about the safety of drugs, Uh, stupid things like that. The interesting part about the book is not only did I make arguments against those views, but in each chapter, I gave an example of the discovery of a drug that addressed that. So for example, in the chapter that talks about the industry, who's only interested in Me too drugs, I talk about some of the things we, you and I have talked about already in terms of having competition, certain therapy class.
Well then I will talk about the discovery of Lipitor. Lipitor was the fifth station to the market, but it turned out to be the best, but it also almost never developed. So it is, is the great story of how, uh, the, the drug was found. Uh, but it didn't distinguish itself in preclinical studies.
And one discover his very passionate, uh, scientists, Roger Newton and at a meeting, and this was discovered at Warner Lambert, which we, Pfizer bought in 2000 and at Warner Lambert, uh, they were having a meeting to basically end the program and Roger got in and got in his hands and knees, literally and begged.
Please continue this program. I've just taken it to phase one. I promise you, you're gonna see something very different in phase one. And they said, Oh man, just to get this guy to stop, fine, do the phase one study and then we'll end the program after that. And it turned out the drug lowered, uh, cholesterol twice as good as any of
the statin that was out there. So there are stories like that in, in the book that, uh, are, are, give a lot of flavor and color to, uh, uh, to what we're doing. Uh, when, when they talk about, in, in a chapter where, you know, it's people claim, Well, the NIH really discovers drugs. I, I give, uh, an example of Aljaz, which you've probably seen commercials, I nausea.
Um, Zel Chance was discovered by a Pfizer scientist named Paul Chan. went to a biology meeting in, [01:00:00] in, in the immunology area in uh, Vermont. One summer. He almost didn't go to the meeting because his wife was like eight months pregnant and worried about, Wow, what happened? You go into labor. But his wife thankfully recognized that it was an important meeting for him.
She says they have hospitals in Vermont. If I go into labor. The baby born in, in, in Vermont. Well, fortunately she didn't go into labor there, but while Chan Gall was there, he ran to an old buddy of his, uh, John Oche who worked at the nih and, and Oche was looking. Uh, understanding, uh, bubble boy syndrome and why people had this immune deficiency.
And he talked about a certain enzyme portal called Jack and, and, uh, Paul at the time was looking for compounds to dampen down the immune system. And osha, Kate looked at something that was causing no immune system in people. And Paul thought, Hmm, if I can go and come up with a drug that would block this procedure in normal people, and particularly people whose immune systems are overactive, like in, organ rejection, uh, or, or in Ari rheumatoid arthritis things, maybe I'd have a drug to treat that.
So he, so he did it. We negotiated with the NIH to get access to the reagents, not exclusively anybody could have gotten them. Uh, and we went out and, and, and basically set up an assay. Uh, got leaves, synthesized compounds and et cetera, et cetera. Uh, and, and, and as Paul would say, 17 years later, after he went to this meeting, Zel, Jan was launched,
And, and, and over a billion dollars spent, right?
So some billion and a half dollars, 15, 16 years, uh, from, from talking to an NIH scientist and put, and OSHA's work was very important. OSHA's work triggered the idea in Chan Gallion, and without that nothing would've happened. But I, So anyway, I tell the Zeljak story in this book. So I, I, the first book does all, all those things.
The second book, uh, was a result of after writing the first book, I was invited to be on the Dr. Oz show.
And, uh, I was called on a Wednesday by a producer. Who said we're doing a show about drugs. And, uh, we have, uh, uh, Dr. John Abson coming on. Abson was a noted Pharmac Gold, wrote books against the industry.
And I said, Okay, I'll, I'll come on the show. And this was a Wednesday and I had to be at 30 Rockefeller Center, uh, at 7:00 AM on Friday morning. So I had about a, a couple days I went out and I got's book and I read it and I said, Oh, this should go all right. And, uh, I got there and I went into the makeup room and they put makeup on and they walked me on stage and I looked at the sign, uh, on there for the episode.
Uh, four things drug companies don't want you to know. And, and, and it gets better. Uh, you know, Oz Oz now has about 110 people in the audience, but there's one section of about 40. Uh, uh, 30 or 40 separated out. And, and he says, you know, drugs have side effects. So he, he, he goes to these people, he says, Well, have any, any of you ever had a side effect from a drug?
They all stand up,
Mike Koelzer, Host: Oh, course, of course.
John LaMattina, PhD: And it sort of went downhill from there.
But it was, it was very important for me to see, because 90% of the audience was female and they looked at me like I was the devil, uh, that, that I was an awful person. Only wanted to make drugs, to make money and, and these drugs harm people and things like that.
And afterwards, one of my, uh, uh, sons who was socially, uh, uh, aware, uh, so, you know, you gotta get your word out more. He said, How do you do that? He said, You gotta start a blog.
Okay. Uh, how do I do that? He's taught me. And he says, So I start a blog? Who's gonna know about this? Then you gotta go on Twitter.
So that was my entry into social media. But it also, It, it, uh, uh, caused me to write, devalue and distrust it because, uh, there were things that the industry needed to do better and also things the industry was doing well. And so I tried to put that out in the second book as well.
Interesting enough, a lot of the things I advocated for in the book have come to pass. So, uh, all clinical trials are now on clinical trials.gov, so you can go on and see that and you can monitor the progress of things, uh, tremendous things like that. All payments that companies make.
The doctors, uh, over $10 now have to report it, uh, at every quarter. So, these are the things I think that have helped the industry, uh, and, and to get it better. And then finally, my Farm and Profits, the newest book. So all of them have been based on my experience in the industry and, and doing this sort of thing and trying to set the record straight,
uh, out there.
Mike Koelzer, Host: Well, John, Golly, great having you on. I think so. Before social media. We heard a lot from big corporations about all that information, and there was nowhere for the little people to talk it over.
And I think in the last 10 years or so, now you've got a lot of rumbling from below in social media I think you do a good service for the industry of bringing both sides together a little bit and, uh, a little [01:05:00] background from the industry yet listening to word of the people.
And so thanks for what you're doing,
John LaMattina, PhD: thank you. Thanks, thanks for your kind words. I really.
Mike Koelzer, Host: All right. Well good having you on, John. I look forward to keeping in touch.
John LaMattina, PhD: Thank you. Same here.