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Public Groupactive 1 month ago
One of the world’s biggest drug firms deliberately buried data showing one of its arthritis medications could slash the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Pfizer kept its finding under wraps for more than three years because, it claims, it didn’t believe the evidence was strong enough.
It found the link between Alzheimer’s and the drug Enbrel when analysing medical insurance claims in hundreds of thousands of people in the US.
People taking Enbrel, an anti-inflammatory used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, appeared to be 64 per cent less likely to develop the memory-robbing disorder.
But after years of discussion, the company decided not to reveal what it had found, according to a document seen by the Washington Post.
Experts are sceptical of the firm’s reasons not to share its ‘strong’ data at a time when scientists are deep into a quest to find an Alzheimer’s treatment.
One suggested money – and a desire to not let others capitalise – may have been behind the decision because Enbrel’s patent had almost run out.
Pfizer told MailOnline this allegation is untrue and its decision not to publish was based ‘first and foremost on scientific rationale’.
Internal documents from one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer, showed it found its rheumatoid arthritis medication, Enbrel (pictured) may be able to reduce someone’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by as much as two thirds
Researchers working inside the $235billion (£184bn) company reportedly urged bosses to start a clinical trial to delve deeper into what they found in 2015.
This could have involved between 3,000 and 4,000 people, taken four years and cost the firm $80million (£63m), it estimated.
After internal discussions, the New York-based company decided in 2018 not to go ahead with a trial, and not to tell the research community what it had found.
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Share 6.3k shares A PowerPoint presentation from a Pfizer meeting the same year, seen by the Post, read: ‘Enbrel could potentially safely prevent, treat and slow progression of Alzheimer’s disease.’
Defending its decision not to investigate the link further, Pfizer – the maker of Viagra – said it believed the chances of success for a clinical trial were low.
And it added the findings from its insurance claims analysis, which included hundreds of thousands of people, did not meet ‘rigorous’ scientific standards.
‘I find Pfizer’s decision really difficult to understand,’ Professor Rob Howard, an old-age psychiatry expert at University College London, told MailOnline.
Pfizer, headquartered in New York (pictured), told the Washington Post it did not believe its findings were scientifically robust enough to publish