Thursday, March 22, 2007

Yous-A-Don't Wanna Publish That, Right?


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...

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?
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.

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).

2 comments:

ELS said...

Medline has the following entry:

Littrell KH, Petty RG, Hilligoss NM, Peabody CD, Johnson CG.

Weight loss associated with olanzapine treatment.
J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2002 Aug;22(4):436-7.

I wonder is Petty RG is the "Richard Petty USA" referred to as "one of our scientists."

CL Psych said...

I'd say that sounds like a pretty good bet! Just one of the many studies associating weight loss with olanzapine (ha, ha). I've not read that particular piece, but it sure sounds a bit fishy, eh?