Pfizer Drug Studies Misleading - Again
Drug giants Pfizer Inc. who make Viagra and Zoloft, are misleading consumers once again according to a report that discovered when a company-funded study’s primary finding wasn’t favorable, that result was buried and something else positive was highlighted, without disclosing the non-favorable findings.
The documents used in the review were obtained by lawyers suing Pfizer for refunds on prescriptions paid for by insurers and consumers. The lawyers, who are seeking class action status for the cases, claim Pfizer concealed evidence the epilepsy drug Neurontin didn't work for those unapproved uses, including nerve pain, migraines and bipolar disorder.
This report comes just two months after Pfizer agreed to pay a record $2.3 billion settlement to resolve criminal and civil liability for illegally promoting certain pharmaceuticals. Officials from the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services said the world's largest drug company promoted four drugs for use on certain ailments or at dosages that were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
In the law suit two months ago, The Justice Department said Pfizer sales people created sham requests from physicians asking for information about unapproved uses of certain drugs. The information was then mailed to doctors. Officials said Pfizer also entertained doctors at resorts and encouraged them to prescribe its drugs. The Justice Department stated the pharmaceutical company provided kickbacks to health-care providers to encourage them to prescribe other drugs, including Lipitor, Viagra and Zoloft.
Pfizer continues to disputes this current allegation saying, “the company never attempted to mislead the medical community about the effectiveness" of the drug for certain uses.
"We believe the review suffers from significant bias, insufficient data, poor methodology, and cannot pass the threshold of credible scientific research," Pfizer said in a statement.
Dr. Sidney Wolfe, head of health research at consumer group Public Citizen, called it the first comprehensive look "at studies in which a company and people working for it so maliciously manipulated the data to make a drug look more effective than it actually was."
“In every instance, the published article made the drug look better than it would have,” said Wolfe, a member of the FDA’s safety advisory committee. "This results in harm." Arthur Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics, called the report “one of the most ethically disturbing papers I've read in some time” and “an indication that people have been playing fast and loose with studies," particularly industry ones.
Written by Tyler Woods Ph.D.
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