Media Sometimes Expresses Wrong Idea About New Drugs
"Whenit comes to describing the benefits and risks of prescription drugs, thehyper-competitive, around-the-clock media is rarely at its best," SidneyTaurel, chair and CEO of Eli Lilly, writes in a Wall StreetJournal opinion piece. Taurel examines the media's response tosuspension of a Lilly clinical trial for prasugrel, a potential treatment forheart attack patients, as a "case study in the challenge of doing right bydoctors and patients -- in spite of the need to feed the media beast withcopy."
After the company suspended the clinical trial TRITON, the "speculationthat followed these reports was that the drug must have failed its initialtrials," which "was unfounded and, incidentally, false," Taurelwrites. Lilly was prevented from publicly explaining the suspension of thetrial pending the release of findings in the New England Journal ofMedicine and at a meeting of the American Heart Association. As a result, the company stock"began its trip south and, more seriously, some doctors and patients wereleft with false impressions," according to Taurel.
Taurel writes that there "are a few lessons here that need to belearned," adding, "For the pharmaceuticalindustry: Preserving the integrity of scientific data and protecting the safetyof patients are always the right choices." He also writes, "For themedia, if I may be so bold: Don't trade in leaks and rumors where scientificdata are concerned" because "[d]amage to public understanding is hardto repair after it's been done." He continues, "And for would-bepundits: If you have not had firsthand exposure to the scientific results orspecialized knowledge under discussion, then qualify your comments if you mustmake them at all." Taurel concludes, "We all have a stake in tamingthis beast -- not for the sake of any company or individual discovery, but forthe sake of those who ultimately rely on accurate information for the care ofpatients" (Taurel, Wall Street Journal, 11/27).
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