When a company funds a study that finds unfavorable results, they can always deep-six it. But what if someone else conducts the study -- someone you did not fund? Well, a Lilly employee had some interesting thoughts on the matter.
A study was conducted, then presented at a conference. A Lilly employee found out about it, noted that it pointed toward negative safety implications for olanzapine (Zyprexa) and then had some ideas [bold in original, color highlights added]...
If we work on the assumption that this poster WILL be published as a full manuscript soon, our attention needs to turn to how we can minimise its impact on both the global and local level... Where will this paper be published?... Can we stop/delay it? I think it would be very difficult to delay except if one of our scientists could show them that their methodology was flawed...To review, one idea was to find out where the paper might get submitted for publication, then try to influence the editor, as well as sending out a "communications initiative" in an attempt to bias individuals who might review the article to determine its suitability for publication. Or, "influence" the author -- with what? Cash, a baseball bat, hookers and cocaine, what? How does a drug company that did not even sponsor study X call on study X's lead investigator and tell him, "Hey you really shouldn't publish that!" Unbelievable.
Do we know the author? Can we exert any influence? this would be very dangerous as it would be seen as lilly behaving unethically and applies to the below points.
Who sits on the editorial board of the targeted journal? Can we influence them in any way, with respect to the limitations of this methodology? Should we conduct a communications initiative aimed at all influential referees, addressing the above point?
Happy Ending: The author in question has published multiple studies in the area, so either Lilly thought better of their idea to suppress the evidence or their efforts failed miserably. It would seem as if Lilly may wish to hire a Dr. Purple-type character for future efforts (1, 2, 3)??
Source (one of the infamous Zyprexa Documents).