Meds and you

01 March 2009

Busted: drug maker hides bad results

Unfavourable studies on the antipsychotic drug Seroquel were "buried" by UK-based drug maker AstraZeneca Plc, according to a December 1999 e-mail unsealed last week.

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Unfavourable studies on the antipsychotic drug Seroquel were "buried" by UK-based drug maker AstraZeneca Plc, according to a December 1999 e-mail unsealed last week as part of legal action over the drug, the Bloomberg news service reported.

Seroquel is widely used in South Africa and is commonly prescribed for ailments ranging from bipolar disorder to anxiety.

AstraZeneca faces about 9 000 lawsuits claiming the company failed to properly warn patients that the drug can cause diabetes and other health problems.

In the e-mail, AstraZeneca publications manager John Tumas said the company failed to publicise results of at least three clinical trials of Seroquel and selectively chose data from one of the studies for use in a presentation, Bloomberg reported.

"The larger issue is how we face the outside world when they begin to criticise us for suppressing data," Tumas wrote in the e-mail.

In an e-mailed statement, company spokesman Tony Jewell said: "AstraZeneca has studied Seroquel extensively and shared all relevant and required data with the FDA - both before and after the agency approved it as safe and effective," Bloomberg reported. – (HealthDay News, March 2009)

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