Judge opens Prempro evidence | Arkansas Blog

Friday, July 24, 2009

Judge opens Prempro evidence

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2009 at 7:09 PM

A public interest law firm has won approval from a Little Rock federal judge to see evidence that Wyeth Pharmaceuticals "ghostwrote" articles about its Prempro horomone therapy drug for medical journals. Material to be released next week under federal Judge Bill Wilson's order.

NEWS RELEASE FROM PUBLIC JUSTICE

An Arkansas federal judge granted public access today to evidence that Wyeth Pharmaceuticals "ghostwrote" medical articles regarding its hormone therapy drug Prempro, which a national study has shown increase a woman's risk of stroke, heart attack, blood clots, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. 
 
The evidence has been under seal in an ongoing federal lawsuit filed on behalf of victims of Prempro.  Public Justice, a national public interest law firm headquartered in Washington D.C., sought access to the evidence on behalf of PLoS Medicine, a medical journal published by the non-profit Public Library of Science (PLOS).  Along with the New York Times, PLOS had moved to interevene in the case to unseal the ghostwriting documents because the public has powerful interest in knowing the truth about the drug companies' conduct and the safety of its drugs.
 
"We are thrilled by the Court’s decision to stop Wyeth’s attempt to hide evidence of its ghostwriting,” said Amy Radon, Public Justice's lead attorney for PLoS Medicine. "Public health and safety is put at serious risk when a drug company fails to reveal its role in authoring a medical journal article touting its own product."

The ghostwriting evidence in the Prempro litigation, which is ongoing, was under seal due to a confidentiality order that permitted Wyeth to shield from public inspection any material that Wyeth itself deemed to be "confidential." 
 
In his July 24 ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Bill Wilson, Jr., held that there was no good cause for secrecy and ordered that the documents be made publicly available as of 5:00 p.m. on Friday, July 31.  The New York Times reported last December that the secret documents include evidence of a "mammoth" ghostwriting campaign involving Prempro.  U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has this material as part of a congressional investigation into drug industry influence on doctors, accordingto the Times story.
 
“Wyeth did not even attempt to show good cause for keeping these documents secret," said Morgan "Chip" Welch of Arkansas’ Welch and Kitchens, LLC.  “Judge Wilson’s decision will undoubtedly save lives.
 
To read the District Court’s order, go to
http://publicjustice.net/Repository/Files/Prempro_OrderUnsealing_072409.pdf

To read Public Justice's brief in support of PLoS Medicine's motion to intervene, go to
http://www.publicjustice.net/Repository/Files/Prempro_BriefinSupportInterveneFINALV2_4.PDF

To read Public Justice's brief in support of PLoS Medicine's motion for access to the materials in this case,  go to http://www.publicjustice.net/Repository/Files/Prempro_BriefinSupportUnsealFINAL_5.PDF

To read the New York Times article about Wyeth's ghostwriting campaign, go to
http://publicjustice.net/Repository/Files/NYTimes-WyethGhostwriting.pdf

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