Pfizer’s Internal Docs Suggest Drug Company Tactics

Court documents filed in a Pfizer Neurontin lawsuit allege that the pharmaceutical company tried to suppress data from a study showing that Neurontin was ineffective in alleviating nerve pain. The documents reveal Pfizer executives strategizing about how to silence a British researcher whose study found the negative Neurontin results. At the same time these inner dealings were going on inside the corporate world of Pfizer, the company’s marketing machine was engaged in an aggressive campaign to market the drug. The marketing campaign touted a smaller Neurontin study showing positive effects of the drug Neurontin.
The documents filed in court in anticipation of a potential class action lawsuit provide consumers and the courts with an insider’s view of how the large drug companies influence and manipulate the flow of data and information presented to doctors and their patients.
According to the Boston Globe, “a dozen researchers and physicians reviewed thousands of documents for the plaintiffs’ attorneys; their conclusions included that Pfizer controlled the information available to doctors and consumers by suppressing or delaying negative studies about Neurontin’s effectiveness for certain types of pain, migraine headaches, and bipolar illness, and by manipulating other studies before they were published to make the results look more positive.
“They created the illusion of Neurontin’s efficacy in the scientific literature,” said lead plaintiff attorney Thomas Greene of Boston. “Pfizer’s scientific misconduct and unethical behavior caused physicians to write tens of millions of ineffective prescriptions for serious and debilitating conditions resulting in billions of dollars in profit for Pfizer at the expense of patients and insurance companies.”
Once again, we see the importance of transparency with the documents of large corporations. Just like that other large corporation immersed in scandal because of its internal documents, the Catholic Church, drug companies like Pfizer have had a disturbing history of covering up information that is not beneficial to them or their bottom line. A new and urgent call for transparency is the way out of this public relations morass but neither the Catholic Church nor the large pharmaceutical companies want to come out of the shadows and be transparent.
It’s too bad for that’s the only way to restore public confidence.