You give pharma…a bad name – alleged intimidation of Avandia critic

Readers who are busting their butts doing basic and drug development research in pharmaceutical companies don’t need this kind of alleged behavior from upper management – from Jeanne Whalen at the Wall Street Journal (online yesterday and in today’s print edition) following up on a story first reported in the Journal on 24 May 2007:

Over a period of several years, drug maker GlaxoSmithKline PLC was so concerned about a prominent physician’s negative views of its diabetes drug that it engaged in a concerted effort to intimidate him and stifle his opinion, a report by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee found.
The report offers a window into the rarely acknowledged practice among drug companies of monitoring and seeking to influence the opinions of leading physicians, who can make or break a drug’s sales. The report alleges that Glaxo Chief Executive Jean-Pierre Garnier and former research chief Tachi Yamada were involved in the intimidation.
The Senate Finance Committee released the report Thursday, after researching Glaxo’s relationship with John Buse, a diabetes expert and professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. In 1999, Dr. Buse began expressing concerns about the cardiovascular risks of Avandia, one of Glaxo’s top selling drugs.

Here is 12-page PDF of the Senate Finance Committee Report.
Here is the response from GSK.
As Whalen distills from the report, “The Senate Finance Committee investigated the matter because it has jurisdiction over Medicare and Medicaid and wants to ensure that they are paying for safe and effective medicines.”
This can’t be good news on top of the recent decision to by FDA to include a strong “black box” warning in Avandia prescribing information.
Now that the US Senate is involved, look for more developments…

Ed Silverman’s Pharmalot has more of the backstory, including this note for scientists:

Chuck Grassley, the Republican Senator from Iowa who sits on the Senate Finance committee, has an open-door policy to scientists who feel a drugmaker threatened their career or attacked their reputation if they “raise the alarm” about a “dangerous” drug. If you’re one of those, you can fax Chuck at 202-228-2131.

More at WSJ Health Blog.

3 thoughts on “You give pharma…a bad name – alleged intimidation of Avandia critic

  1. That reminds me: A couple of times, I’ve gotten surveys in the mail. The company offered to pay me some amount, I can’t remember for sure, maybe $50, to fill out the survey. It asked me to list the names of physicians local, state, and national levels whom I considered to be “thought leaders.” The specifically wanted to know the physicians whom I felt were the most influential. I just threw the surveys away, but I always wondered what they were for.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s