About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

Chemistry and Drug Data: Drugbank
Chempedia Lab
Synthetic Pages
Organic Chemistry Portal
Not Voodoo

Chemistry and Pharma Blogs:
Org Prep Daily
The Haystack
A New Merck, Reviewed
Liberal Arts Chemistry
Electron Pusher
All Things Metathesis
C&E News Blogs
Chemiotics II
Chemical Space
Noel O'Blog
In Vivo Blog
Terra Sigilatta
BBSRC/Douglas Kell
Realizations in Biostatistics
ChemSpider Blog
Organic Chem - Education & Industry
Pharma Strategy Blog
No Name No Slogan
Practical Fragments
The Curious Wavefunction
Natural Product Man
Fragment Literature
Chemistry World Blog
Synthetic Nature
Chemistry Blog
Synthesizing Ideas
Eye on FDA
Chemical Forums
Symyx Blog
Sceptical Chymist
Lamentations on Chemistry
Computational Organic Chemistry
Mining Drugs
Henry Rzepa

Science Blogs and News:
Bad Science
The Loom
Uncertain Principles
Fierce Biotech
Blogs for Industry
Omics! Omics!
Young Female Scientist
Notional Slurry
Nobel Intent
SciTech Daily
Science Blog
Gene Expression (I)
Gene Expression (II)
Adventures in Ethics and Science
Transterrestrial Musings
Slashdot Science
Cosmic Variance
Biology News Net

Medical Blogs
DB's Medical Rants
Science-Based Medicine
Respectful Insolence
Diabetes Mine

Economics and Business
Marginal Revolution
The Volokh Conspiracy
Knowledge Problem

Politics / Current Events
Virginia Postrel
Belmont Club
Mickey Kaus

Belles Lettres
Uncouth Reflections
Arts and Letters Daily
In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

In the Pipeline

« Anonymity? | Main | That's Never Gonna Work »

March 21, 2008

Pfizer Loses, So Far

Email This Entry

Posted by Derek

I wanted to follow up on the post the other day about Pfizer's attempts to open up the editorial files in various scientific journals. The decision on the New England Journal of Medicine motion hasn't come down yet, but two others have.

And Pfizer's lost both of them. The district court in Chicago rejected the company's arguments to compel JAMA and the Archives of Internal Medicine to open up their records on papers concerning Celebrex or Bexxtra. The ruling held (correctly, in my opinion) that the possible value of these documents to Pfizer's case was more than outweighed by the harm that would be done to the journals by allowing access.

And as this story at the Science web site mentions, the NEJM case may well be about to go the same way. According to the journal's attorneys, Pfizer narrowed its request to just the peer-review comments returned to the authors of the manuscripts. That seems, at least to me, to weaken the argument that these documents are of such great value to their legal case, while leaving the problem of breaching confidential peer review.

At least I think it does - I assume that Pfizer wants names attached to these things, unless they can use them in their case without attribution. Even so, that still doesn't sound like something that'll make people enthusiastic about reviewing such papers - the prospect of having their comments read off in open court. No, I think that argument that sank Pfizer's requests in Illinois still obtains, and that the Massachusetts court will rule the same way.

So if this whole issue goes away, we can relax until the next legal inspiration hits. In the interim, I still think that Pfizer should at least be vaguely ashamed of having taken this road. A confidential poll of the company's own scientists would surely find that a solid majority of them would be opposed to the whole idea of legal discovery of peer review documents. (I say that because I've hardly talked to a single chemist or biologist who didn't think the same way). That said, there aren't many companies that size whose business decisions would all survive after polls among the scientific staff. . .

Comments (9) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: The Scientific Literature | Why Everyone Loves Us


1. Insider on March 21, 2008 8:52 AM writes...

You are a master of understatement.

"Vaguely ashamed" indeed!

Permalink to Comment

2. Derek Lowe on March 21, 2008 9:13 AM writes...

Maybe that should be "at least vaguely ashamed". . .

Permalink to Comment

3. Don B. on March 21, 2008 10:54 AM writes...

Howly paid and vaguely ashamed.

Permalink to Comment

4. Still Scared of Dinosaurs on March 21, 2008 12:00 PM writes...

"That said, there aren't many companies that size whose business decisions would all survive after polls among the scientific staff"

The companies themselves would be unlikely to survive very long if their business decisions were subjected to polls of the scientific staff.

As opposed to having their scientific decisions parsed by their business staff, which appears to be a recipe for a protracted, painful death.

Permalink to Comment

5. snug on March 21, 2008 12:35 PM writes...

The incandescent bulbs in the Pfizer Boardroom should be brought to the main thoroughfare in New England, put in the stocks and let the mob throw ginormous monsanto rotten tomatoes at them.

Permalink to Comment

6. Still Scared of Dinosaurs on March 21, 2008 12:41 PM writes...

Monsanto tomatoes don't rot - they migrate.

Permalink to Comment

7. sroy on March 21, 2008 10:48 PM writes...

One day, some pfizer CEO will have to say some version of these words by Emperor Hirohito at the end of WWII

"the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest."

I am guessing 2-3 years fron now.

Permalink to Comment

8. milkshake on March 23, 2008 6:09 AM writes...

Pfizer is Microsoft of the pharma industry. They have a uncanny way of alieanting the maximum number of people for the least amount of short-term gain

Permalink to Comment

9. Pete on November 6, 2010 6:05 PM writes...

It seems like you have an ax to grind with Pfizer ? You seem to have quite a few articles here against my company and what we do . What happened - they rejected your job application ?

Permalink to Comment


Remember Me?


Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

The Last Post
The GSK Layoffs Continue, By Proxy
The Move is Nigh
Another Alzheimer's IPO
Cutbacks at C&E News
Sanofi Pays to Get Back Into Oncology
An Irresponsible Statement About Curing Cancer
Oliver Sacks on Turning Back to Chemistry