E-mails Suggest Pfizer Tried To Suppress Study On Drug

Suits say company misled on Neurontin
By Liz Kowalczyk, Globe Staff | October 8, 2008

Top drug company marketing executives suppressed a large European study suggesting their blockbuster medication Neurontin was ineffective for chronic nerve pain, and they privately strategized about how to silence a British researcher who wanted to go public with the data, according to newly filed documents and e-mails that are part of a Boston court case.

During the same period of several years, Pfizer Inc. launched an advertising blitz promoting the purportedly positive findings of a smaller Neurontin study it had published in a major medical journal – including showing a video to airline passengers before their in-flight movie.

The widespread promotion of Neurontin turned what had been a relatively minor epilepsy drug into one of the fastest-growing blockbuster drugs in the world, one that generated more than $2 billion a year in US sales for Pfizer before a generic competitor entered the market in 2004.

Taken together, the e-mails and other internal Pfizer documents produced as part of a potential class action lawsuit against the company represent one of the most detailed looks yet at how a drugmaker controls what physicians and consumers know about a drug. More…