Friday, April 20, 2007

Another secret AstraZeneca document revealed!

The "Fantastic 7" whistleblowers from AstraZeneca have sent another secret AstraZeneca document to Question Authority and Brandweek.

I was trying to gather some additional facts before posting, but Jim is now throwing things up so fast, that I guess there is no point in me delaying . . . please note that neither one of us have independent corroboration that this is an authentic document, however, it was sent to us by the same person who started this whole affair by sending the AZ "Zube" Oncology Newsletter to me.

This document was allegedly written by Matt Lehman, Brand Director for Arimidex, on January 9, 2007, and the "Fantastic 7" claim it was sent to the entire AstraZeneca oncology sales force.

And no one outside AstraZeneca is supposed to read this document. We know this, because in bold letters it says the document is "not for proactive distribution or discussion outside of AstraZeneca."

The message in this memo is--again--how inferior Novartis' letrozole is compared to AstraZeneca's drug and starts with this line in the first paragraph:

"Our friends at Novartis have just poured gasoline on that fire that we all stoked…..IMAGINE THAT!"

This can only be interpreted as AstraZeneca selling against letrozole, which allegedly contributed to AstraZeneca regional sales director Mike Zubillaga getting fired, and may violate AstraZeneca's policy for product promotion: "As with all product discussions, all such product comparisons may be made only in the context of an objective, balanced presentation. The benefits of one product and the shortcomings of another may not be singled out."

Then the memo goes on to claim that Arimidex is "the only AI with a 5-year consistent, and well established safety profile"

The "proof" provided for this statement is a study which doesn't use Arimidex (!), but tamoxifen vs. letrozole, and Lehman writes, "Although the overall incidence of cardiac adverse events did not differ significantly between the two treatments, a trend for higher grade cardiac events on letrozole compared with tamoxifen was seen." (Translation: It didn't prove a thing, but it looks good for us because letrozole looks worse than another drug.)

The author seems to understand this, because he throws in this ambiguous statement: "To be clear, the paper is for background use only and we don’t advocate anyone using this publication to sell Arimidex but attached are a couple thoughts on how this paper relates to our Arimidex messaging."

Then he can't resist ending the memo with this conclusion:

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is the time to capitalize on what may very well be the biggest opportunity in 2007 for Arimidex."

(Translation: The big opportunity is to sell Arimidex against letrozole using data from a study that didn't even use Arimidex. But don't tell anyone I told you.)

Too bad for AstraZeneca that someone just did that.

Download Matt Lehman's entire memo here.

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