Please login to the form below

Not currently logged in
Email:
Password:

AstraZeneca 'suppressed' key drug data

AstraZeneca (AZ) tried to suppress data involving weight gain side-effects of its anti-psychotic drug, Seroquel, according to a former employee

One of the world's leading drug companies, AstraZeneca (AZ) tried to suppress key data involving weight gain side-effects of its anti-psychotic drug, Seroquel, according to a former employee.

Speaking to the BBC's File on 4, former UK medical adviser for the drug, John Blenkinsopp, told of how he was put under pressure to approve promotional material that overlooked experimental evidence for Seroquel which saw patients develop "significant weight gain, significant both statistically and clinically."

The accusations come as AZ face fresh legal action next month, with thousands of patients suing the company in the US over claims the drug caused weight gain and diabetes without providing an adequate warning for such side-effects in its marketing. These claims are denied by the company.

Speaking openly for the first time since 2000 about the subject, Blenkinsopp told the BBC: "They [the marketing team] came at me with a number of potential claims all of which were trying to intimate that Seroquel was not associated with weight gain - the data pointed in the opposite direction.

"In the end I was put under quite a significant amount of pressure by the marketeers to sign off claims with regards to the lack of weight gain and I was unwilling to sign that off. The marketeers made it clear it could be career limiting for me."

According to BBC News Online, 'AstraZeneca has said it would not comment specifically in reference to its former employees, but said it took seriously any concerns regarding the firm's conduct and compliance procedures and it was currently reviewing issues raised by File on 4's investigation.'

Seroquel was launched in 1997 for treating schizophrenia and later for bipolar disorder. It is currently AZ's second biggest selling drug, making a profit of $4.5bn (£2.7bn) a year.

The issue has also renewed debate on the approval process for new drugs in the UK. Speaking on the File on 4 programme, Dr Fiona Godlee, editor of the British Medical Journal, warned that the power and influence of the pharmaceutical industry 'needed to be controlled'.

She is reported by the BBC as calling for independent trials for all new drugs, in what would be a major change in the way drugs are developed and licensed.

Currently, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), who regulate what drugs are licensed, relies only on research provided by drug companies themselves when approving a medicine.

File on 4  is on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday, 26 January, at 8pm, and is repeated Sunday, 31 January, at 5pm.

 

 


 

26th January 2010

Share

PMEA Awards 2020

COVID-19 Updates and Daily News

Featured jobs

PMHub

Add my company
Market Access Transformation

Market Access Transformation (MAT), founded by industry veterans Baiju Aurora and Paul Howard, specializes in developing cutting edge technologies that...

Latest intelligence

#DemandDiversity: For International Women's Day, we ask... why do women often suffer from more side effects than men?
Women are largely prescribed exactly the same treatment regimens as men, with no account for the underlying differences in physiology and drug metabolism between the sexes....
Good design saves lives
Good design and creative thinking are essential if we are to improve on existing problems in new ways, which is why design and creativity within healthcare is vital. Health is...
Why you must understand the pricing of patient recruitment companies
Recruiting a diverse range of patients and engaging with them for your clinical trial isn’t an easy task, which means you might turn to patient recruitment companies, like us, who...

Infographics