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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Duchesnay's Payments to Bendectin "Expert"

Duchesnay, who have recently been in the news regarding Kim Kardashian's promotion of their morning sickness pill, Diclegis, have, it appears, been paying a number of doctors in the US for "food and beverages", "travel and lodging", "education", "consulting fees" and "Compensation for services other than consulting, including serving as faculty or as a speaker at a venue other than a continuing education program."

The list of payments made to doctors comes from the Open Payments Database and top of the list is Dr. Ralph Webster Hale, who, in 2014, received  $32,875 from Duchesnay. In 2013 Hale, who is based out of Oak Hill, VA, received $27,840 from Duchesnay, rounding up his total to a whopping $60,715. This, it should be pointed out, is standard practice for pharmaceutical companies. They claim they are paying experts to offer safety and efficacy advice whilst advocates, such as myself, suggest that the payments may be to influence other doctors to use certain drugs.

I became increasingly concerned as I went through the list of doctors Duchesnay had paid over a two year period (2013/14)

If you've been following the recent Diclegis posts of mine you'll know that back in the 80's a birth defect lawsuit was filed. The drug in question was called Bendectin, which is, in essence, the same chemical compound that is found in Duchesnay's Diclegis. The lawsuit (Blum vs Merrell Dow) lasted a number of years - on two separate occasions the Blum family (whose son had been born with clubbed feet) were victorious only to have Merrell Dow appeal against the decisions. In the end, Merrell Dow, after lengthy legal jargon that opposed the Jury's findings, were successful and the Blum family were left with nothing. (Relevant links are at the foot of this post)

One of Merrell Dow's experts was Dr Steven Lamm. He examined all of the information on hand and pooled the data (with regard to the sales of Bendectin and its correlation to birth defects) to reach his decision that women who take Bendectin are not at an increased risk of having children with any congenital malformations. In his affidavit, Lamm stated that no published report confirmed Bendectin caused teratogenic effects in humans.

Lamm even wrote a published paper regarding the safety of Bendectin. Entitled. "The Epidemiological Assessment of the Safety and Efficacy of Bendectin", Lamm found that...

...there was no association between Bendectin use and birth in toto, nor was there any association between Bendectin use and birth defects by organ system. Furthermore, analysis of nationwide data showed no change in the birth defect prevalence rates for any birth defect after the sales of Bendectin significantly decreased in 1980 and subsequent years."

Anyway, that was then and this is now...

Duchesnay, between the years of 2013 and 2014 paid Dr. Lamm  $3,500 for "Compensation for services other than consulting, including serving as faculty or as a speaker at a venue other than a continuing education program." and a further $1,823 for "travel and lodging." (Fig 1)  In 2013, Lamm was paid a total of $2,300.

So, let's gets his straight. An expert who gave evidence on behalf of Merrell Dow, that evidence being that their drug Bendectin (which has the same chemical compound as Duchesnay's Diclegis) did not show an increased risk of having children with any congenital malformations, is now being paid by Duchesnay.

Exactly what is  "Compensation for services other than consulting, including serving as faculty or as a speaker at a venue other than a continuing education program."? Who knows? Maybe Duchesnay hired Lamm's services to double check everything and to make sure that Diclegis cannot cause birth defects.

Now, I know that pharmaceutical companies, such as Duchesnay, can hire whoever they want to to give discussions to other doctors, if indeed that's what they hired Lamm for. I do, however, find it odd that an expert for Merrell Dow is now receiving payments from the very same company who have made efforts, I believe,  to belittle the birth defect lawsuits filed all those years ago.

The website, in my opinion, makes every effort to play down the risk of birth defects associated with Bendectin. No surprise, then, when we learn that the website is sponsored by Duchesnay Inc. (Scroll to bottom)

Duchesnay, however, do cover themselves with the disclaimer on the website... is intended for general informational purposes only and consists primarily of generally accepted conclusions regarding the history of Bendectin. The content provided in this Site is general in nature and not individually tailored to any particular facts or needs. Duchesnay Inc. is not offering any legal advice, other professional advice or services by providing this information. should not be relied upon or used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal or other competent advisers.

Fig 1 - Dr. Lamm's $1,823 for "Travel and Lodging" expenses paid by Duchesnay in 2014

I think if any future litigation should arise regarding Diclegis then Duchesnay would find it very difficult to call Lamm as a witness for them given that he has a financial association with them. I think it would be deemed as a conflict of interest.

Doctor Lamm received his master's and doctor of medicine degrees from the University of Southern California. He has served as a consultant in birth-defect epidemiology for the National Center for Health Statistics and has published numerous articles on the magnitude of risk from exposure to various chemical and biological substances.

The Duchesnay Dollars For Docs Database can be accessed here.

The above information and information contained in the links below have been passed on to an investigative journalist. For now, I'm putting Diclegis to sleep.

Bob Fiddaman.

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