Today, however, Pfizer files a sheepish, two-paragraph statement with the SEC, because there was a problem with the study. "A subsequent review" found that risk was lowered by just 10 percent, "which is not a statistically significant difference." Pharmalot chatted with Pfizer spokeswoman Vanessa Aristide, who says the mistake was due to a "programming errorâ€ that was discovered after the study was submitted for publication. But where's the press release to alert the physicians, employers and formulary directors? There won't be one.
"It was just a corporate decision. We're going to seek publication of the new info with the necessary corrections and it was decided that it was appropriate to update the SEC," she says. "We are taking corrective measures."
Okay, mistakes happen. Let's take that at face value. But if it's okay to tout good news, why is it so hard to acknowledge the mistake in the same way? It's just as easy to hit the send button for a press release as it is to file with the SEC. Weeks or months could go by until the same people who heard of the Lipitor results last March - thanks, in part, to the press release - may hear of the corrected data. That's potentially unfair to patients, who Pfizer claims to want to help.
Hat tip to the Health Blog