Newly unsealed court documents reveal that Wyeth Pharmaceuticals paid ghostwriters to produce forty scientific papers to promote the benefits and downplay the risks of Premarin and Prempro, their hormone therapy drugs. These drugs grossed nearly $2 billion dollars in 2001. The articles, published in medical journals between 1998 and 2005, failed to disclose Wyeth’s role in initiating and paying for the work.
What seemed like a growing medical consensus started falling apart in 2002 when a large government study was halted after researchers found that menopausal women who took Prempro had an increased risk of invasive breast cancer, heart disease and stroke. Nevertheless, Wyeth Vice President, Doug Petkus now tells the news media that the ghostwritten articles were “scientifically accurate” and never “misrepresented the science.” However, Ted Meadows, one of our lawyers, specifically asked Petkus in his 2005 deposition whether there was “ever any ghostwriting done with respect to hormone therapy products?” His answer: “I don’t know.”
Most of the ghostwriting documents were uncovered by our friend and a fine lawyer, Jim Szaller. They provide a paper trail showing how Wyeth contracted with a company to draft articles and solicit well-known physicians to sign their names, even though the doctors contributed little or no writing. Because practitioners rely on medical literature, the concern is that such subterfuge leads to changes in prescribing habits without knowing the articles were written by a drug company.
Approximately 12,000 women have sued Pfizer and/or Wyeth claiming that their hormone drugs caused serious medical conditions, including breast cancer. So far, eight of ten juries have agreed and returned large verdicts. The companies have also settled at least eight other cases on the eve of trial.
Our firm represents a number of women who have filed suit against Wyeth and/or Pfizer. We are currently set for trial in Philadelphia, where Judge Moss has ordered that 16 cases be tried, starting in September and ending in the first half of 2010. We also hope that several other hormone therapy cases will soon be set for trial in other parts of the country during 2010. If you would like more information, you can contact Ted Meadows, Melissa Prickett or Russ Abney at 800-898-2034 or by email at Ted.Meadows@beasleyallen.com, Melissa.Prickett@beasleyallen.com, or Russ.Abney@beasleyallen.com.
Source: Bloomberg News
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