AstraZeneca Oncology Scandal Spreading to Biotech Company?
Back in April 2006, AstraZeneca decided to do a deal with Abraxis BioScience to co-promote the cancer therapy ABRAXANE, see press release here.
But as you already know, problems were brewing in the AstraZeneca Oncology sales force.
And one of the persons, now known as the AstraZeneca "Fantastic Seven" whistleblowers decided to speak up. This person did that on CafePharma on March 15, 2007, and wrote to me this morning and said that the following posts on this message thread on CafePharma "are real."
We all know that CafePharma is an ongoing mud fight, notorious for all kinds of nasty language, gossip and unsubstantiated claims.
But, let's play along and see what the whistleblower who brought down AZ Oncology Regional Sales Director Mike Zubillaga, claims "to be real":
#32 Just got back from an Abraxane meeting in Pittsburgh with our Abraxis counterparts. The Abraxis manager told all of us not to use email when dealing with Regional Scientific Managers but to stick to cells phones.AZ's Mid-Atlantic Abraxane DSM 'RD' was present & said nothing. This leads me to believe that what they are asking us to do is illegal. Is anyone else seeing this in other parts of the country?
#33 Lemme guess..help the RSM recruit for ad boards and sell Abraxane off-label. Keep it quiet. No email or voicemail. Cell phones only.
#35 Avoiding email is a way to hide evidence. I remember getting off the bus at a national oncology meeting years ago and being asked for my laptop so they could record the hard drive. This was during the Zoladex investigation. They pieced together every suspicious transaction. That included business plans, email, work day appraisals, evaluations and call notes. When reps were questioned they had everything laid out in chronological order. We were also told that at any time a federal investigator could knock on our with a subpeona. Comforting thoughts. So if you want to "be happy" that's fine. Just remember that if things go south the managers will step aside and let you take the blame because you signed off on the policy and can't produce a CYA document.
#36 This reminds me of the Neurontin case where MSL/RSMs were used to promote off-label:http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/2004/404_wl.html"Warner-Lambert also used "medical liaisons," who represented themselves (often falsely) as scientific experts in a particular disease, to promote off-label uses for Neurontin."
#38 The off-label promotion of Abraxane IV or Faslodex injection would be considered fraud under the False Claims Act
Clearly none of this is actual proof of anything. But considering what has been going on inside AstraZeneca over the past couple of weeks, and considering that this whistleblower has already been proven right once, he may be right about this too.
I guess AstraZeneca's legal department just got one more issue to investigate and send to the OIG per their Corporate Integrity Agreement.
As for Abraxis BioScience, they better make sure they start their own probe.
Wouldn't look good if AstraZeneca came clean and Abraxis got caught with their pants down. Not that we know if anyone has done anything wrong.
But once the accusations start flying like mud in the air, friendly co-promotion partners can rapidly tear each other apart.