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Drug company staff fretted when in-house paper’s conclusion clashed with marketing claims

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g1505 (Published 18 February 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g1505
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

When employees at the German drug firm Boehringer Ingelheim learnt that the conclusions of a company study clashed with a marketing claim that its new anticoagulant did not need monitoring, they sought to have the paper revised and even questioned whether it should be published at all, internal company documents released by a US court indicate.

In an email one employee, whose name was redacted, complained that the paper would harm the company’s marketing efforts and make discussions with regulatory agencies more difficult. “Can’t this be avoided?” the employee asked.

Another employee, Andreas Clemens, a medical team leader for the drug, wrote that he believed that the findings were important and should be published but with revision. “The world is crying for this information—but the tricky part is that we have to tailor the messages smart.”

In another email Clemens expressed concern that the paper “could be a liability issue” for the company.

The study involved dabigatran etexilate (marketed as Pradaxa), a thrombin inhibitor that is approved in the United States and Europe for the prevention of stroke and embolic events in patients with atrial fibrillation.

One of the …

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