Pharmaceuticals Anonymous

Monday, March 2, 2009

AstraZeneca: "Lisa has done a great smoke-and-mirrors job"

AstraZeneca “buried” unfavorable studies of its $4.4 billion blockbuster psychiatric drug Seroquel, according to internal documents released Friday in a legal dispute between the company and lawyers for thousands of people who sued the company because they said the drug caused diabetes and weight gain.
In one of the documents, a 1997 e-mail message, Richard Lawrence, an AstraZeneca official, praised Lisa Arventis, the company’s Seroquel project physician at the time, for minimizing adverse findings in a “cursed” study. He wrote: “Lisa has done a great ‘smoke-and-mirrors job!’ ”
Lawyers suing AstraZeneca, a British drug maker whose United States headquarters are in Delaware, said the documents show it tried to hide the diabetes link for nearly a decade.
“AstraZeneca knew about the risk of weight gain and diabetes in 2000 and not only failed to warn physicians and patients but marketed in a way that represented there was no risk,” Edward F. Blizzard, a Houston-based lead lawyer on the cases, said in a conference call with reporters.

Read more about the Seroquel scandal at the New York Times. For the best investigative journalism anywhere on this, go see what Philip Dawdy has to say at Furious Seasons.