Glaxo's nemesis, Baum Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, have teamed up with Pendley Baudin & Coffin and filed a lawsuit against pharmaceutical giants Pfizer Inc. regarding the promotion of their antidepressant, Zoloft.
The suit, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, alleges that Pfizer, Inc deliberately and falsely misled consumers regarding the effectiveness of the company’s $30 billion blockbuster antidepressant, Zoloft [sertraline].
The lawsuit also alleges that Pfizer, despite knowing the ineffectiveness of Zoloft, went on a huge marketing campaign that, amongst other things, showed how effective Zoloft was.
Documents, obtained through disclosure, hope to prove that Pfizer...
+ Knew that the majority of clinical trials for Zoloft demonstrated that it was not superior to placebo.
+ The two studies where Zoloft rated over placebo were manipulated by Pfizer.
+ Purposely kept Zoloft's lack of efficacy away from consumers and healthcare professionals.
+ Hired and paid prominent physicians to 'big up' Zoloft's efficacy.
+ Published ghostwritten articles in various journals claiming Zoloft's efficacy.
Lawyers for the class action are seeking compensation for consumers nationwide and in California who purchased and/or paid for Zoloft for the treatment of depression from its launch in 1991 to the present.
Reading through the complaint is pretty much a deja vu experience. Here we have a pharmaceutical company [Pfizer] running trials on a product to see if it can be effective for use in depressed people. The trials fail to show its effectiveness so they manipulate, ahem massage data that makes it look as if it's effective.
What they do then is pay prominent doctor's [those who have the ability to influence other doctor's] to 'big up' the use of Zoloft for depressed patients.
If that wasn't enough, to make Zoloft look like it can treat depression Pfizer ghostwrite papers saying how wonderful, safe and effective it is... but Pfizer don't add the real authors of the paper, instead they target the more well known leaders in the field of psychiatry, you know, the ones that doctor's, unsure about prescribing Zoloft, have on their bedroom walls at home! It's basically a bunch of greedy white-coated quacks convincing naive quacks about a product being effective - when, from the onset, Pfizer knew that it wasn't.
Zoloft has, and still is, prescribed to children and adolescents for depression. In essence they have been prescribed a pill that won't lift their depression, a drug that is designed to alter the brain.
Zoloft side effects range from sickness, dizziness to suicidal thinking and completed suicide.
One has to ask, what were Pfizer thinking when they kept Zoloft's lack of efficacy in treating depression away from health care professionals and the public?
Upon receiving the bad news through their own clinical trials they should have shrugged their shoulders and perhaps moved on. Instead, they, knowing that the FDA only need two positive trials to grant Zoloft a licence, submitted two "successful" clinical trials where Zoloft showed only a limited effect over placebo. Four previous trials had shown no effect.
With such a half-arsed system in place it's no wonder that pharmaceutical companies play the system - there's big bucks to be made and the way the whole system is set up means that big bucks will always be made. The FDA requirements for a drug to be granted a licence is laughable.
From 6 clinical trials came 4 failures and just 2 marginal victories for Pfizer - this, to Pfizer, was golden. It meant that they could now, through the medium of marketing, say pretty much what they wanted to about Zoloft... and this, alleges the complaint, is exactly what they did.
Only Pfizer chose to make claims that clinical trials had showed that Zoloft was very good at treating depression.
We've gone from FAILURE - FAILURE - FAILURE - FAILURE to MARGINAL DIFFERENCE - MARGINAL DIFFERENCE to VERY GOOD.
Now that's some pharmaceutical spin but one that I've grown accustomed to over the years I've been writing this blog.
Knowing what I know now makes the following 2007 commercial for Zoloft even more sickening.
Baum Hedlund is seeking additional class representatives for other states as well. Anyone interested in becoming a class representative may call the firm at 1-800-827-0087 or fill out the contact form [US ONLY]