Friday, August 27, 2004

Glaxo agrees to post negative drug data

By Michael Gormley
The Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. - GlaxoSmithKline PLC agreed Thursday to release negative data on the safety and effectiveness of its drugs to settle a lawsuit by New York's attorney general that accused the pharmaceutical maker of misrepresenting data on prescribing its antidepressant drug Paxil to children.

GlaxoSmithKline will put summaries of all its studies since December 2000 in a clinical trial registry on its Web site. The London-based company is the first major drug maker to agree to disclose all its studies. The company also will pay $2.5 million to the state as part of the settlement.

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer sued the company for fraud in June, alleging it withheld the negative information.

The suit struck at drug companies' responsibility to show whether antidepressants increase suicidal tendencies in children and whether the companies skew information on their products by not publicizing all the studies conducted or by editing information on published trials.

GlaxoSmithKline spokeswoman Nancy Pekarek said the company still feels Spitzer's civil charge of fraud is unfounded and that the settlement accepts disclosure policies the company had been working on before Spitzer's suit was filed.

She said the data Spitzer accused the company of withholding had already been released through other means.

In addition, in June after Spitzer's suit was filed, Glaxo posted on its Web site the Paxil studies that Spitzer had accused the company of hiding.

"We're actually pleased they seem to think it will provide useful information to the medical community," Pekarek said Thursday.

"We are choosing to settle this basically to avoid the high cost and time of protracted litigation."

Pekarek said the company will "make all reasonable effort" to post data by Dec. 31, 2005, on clinical trials since the firm merged in December 2000. Test results from this week forward will be posted within 10 months of a drug's approval, she said.

Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, editor in chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association, said all trial results must be disclosed to avoid the "bad science" of biased data.

Still, she is skeptical of Thursday's settlement that she figures costs GlaxoSmithKline just $5 for every $1,000 in sales.

Spitzer said GlaxoSmithKline's new standard will also drive the industry, in part because investors and funders of research will be drawn to a firm that is a leader in disclosure of product data.

"The immediate impact is sending a signal to the other pharmaceutical manufacturers that this is the new standard with regard to disclosure of clinical studies," said Joe Baker, Spitzer's health care bureau chief. Additional investigations of other drug firms continues, he said.

"We will continue to do that until we feel this industry as a whole has stopped this practice," Baker said.

Spitzer said Glaxo conducted at least five studies on the use of Paxil in children and adolescents, but released one that showed mixed results on its effectiveness.

The Democrat accused the firm of suppressing the negative results that failed to show Paxil was effective and might increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and acts in some youths.

Spitzer also accused the firm of omitting the negative data from "Medical Information Letters" to physicians, according to the settlement filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Glaxo shares rose 66 cents to close at $40.94 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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