A former UK medical manager claims he was pressured by marketing staff to approve claims about AstraZeneca's Seroquel antipsychotic that he felt didn't reflect the medical evidence, theBBC reports. You may recall that lawsuits allege the drugmaker marketed its pill without adequate warnings about possible side effects such as weight gain and diabetes, which AstraZeneca has denied.
But John Blenkinsopp tells the BBC that, "the clinical studies at the time of the launch of Seroquel showed patients developed significant weight gain, significant both statistically and clinically. They (the marketing team) came at me with a number of potential claims all of which were trying to intimate that Seroquel was not associated with weight gain - the data pointed in the opposite direction.
"I understood where they were coming from. I had some robust discussions and exposed them to the data but that didn't seem to stop them because they were desperate for a differential advantage over one of the competitor products and they didn't have one," says Blenkinsopp, who was reportedly speaking publicly for the first time. ""In the end, I was put under quite a significant amount of pressure by the marketeers to sign off claims with regards to the lack of weight gain and I was unwilling to sign that off. The marketeers made it clear it could be career limiting for me."
In the US, the drug was marketed with claims that it would not cause weight gain. But the BBC notes, in the UK, the pill was marketed without those claims, for one ad that was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry in April 2004.