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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 4443

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.

 

Publication type: news

Limprecht E.
Celebrex claim costs Pfizer $25,000
Australian Doctor Weekly 2005 Jun 9


Full text:

PFIZER has been hit with a $25,000 fine for sending a “misleading” letter to GPs in October defending the safety of celecoxib (Celebrex) after the withdrawal of rofecoxib (Vioxx).

The fine follows a Medicines Australia code of conduct committee ruling, which found the pharmaceutical company had breached the drug industry’s self-regulating code of conduct by overstating the evidence for its claim.

Dr Peter Mansfield, an Adelaide GP and founder of pharmaceutical company watchdog Healthy Skepticism, filed a complaint with Medicines Australia after receiving the letter from Pfizer. Pfizer’s letter stated: “the cardiovascular safety of Celebrex has been extensively studied” and “the data do not indicate significant cardiovascular safety concerns”.

Commenting on a study on the long-term effects of Celebrex in arthritis, the letter said “there was no increase in serious cardiovascular thromboembolic events in patients on Celebrex who were or were not also taking prophylactic low-dose aspirin”.

Dr Mansfield argued that there was no adequate long-term study of potential cardiovascular events associated with celecoxib.

Dr Mansfield told Australian Doctor he was not happy with the sanction meted out to Pfizer.

“Pfizer makes millions a year on Celebrex – $25,000 is such a tiny fraction of that. If this is just about Pfizer deciding what is most profitable, then they have an obligation to their shareholders to keep misleading doctors.”

A Pfizer spokesman dismissed the accusation. “The comments are ridiculous and offensive, and if Dr Mansfield had half a notion of balance he would tell people that the sanctions of the Medicines Australia code is up to $200,000. Nobody deliberately flouts the code on a commercial basis. The assertion is insane.”

 

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What these howls of outrage and hurt amount to is that the medical profession is distressed to find its high opinion of itself not shared by writers of [prescription] drug advertising. It would be a great step forward if doctors stopped bemoaning this attack on their professional maturity and began recognizing how thoroughly justified it is.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963