Pfizer has fired outspoken executive Peter Rost, saying that the move was prompted by the US government's decision not to participate in a whistleblower suit he brought against the company.

Rost, vice president of marketing, charged in a 2003 complaint that Pfizer unit Pharmacia had inappropriately marketed its human growth hormone product Genotropin (somatropin) for off-label uses, and improperly sought reimbursement from federal health plans.

Last month a federal judge elected not to pursue the allegations, and Pfizer has filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. The company quickly followed this with the dismissal of Rost, saying that Rost had only been retained in his position after the acquisition of Pharmacia in 2003 because it was felt dismissing him would hamper the resolution of the lawsuit. He will be offered the same severance package as other former Pharmacia executives who were not retained after the merger with Pfizer, according to the company.

Lawyers acting for Rost have a different take on the move, saying it is a retaliatory action for bringing the whistleblower suit to court.

Rost is known for going ‘off-message’, and attracted the attention of the world’s business media earlier this year when he dismissed claims by the Industry that parallel trade in pharmaceuticals is opening the door to counterfeiting and bioterrorism, saying it was merely a scare tactic to protect prices and profits.