Friday, June 20, 2008
A U.S. District Court in Boston and New York state court held joint hearings on whether lawsuits against Pfizer, Inc. based on Neurontin could continue. Plaintiffs allege that the drug lead to suicides. Here's an excerpt of Jeremy Singer-Vine's Wall Street Journal report:
A British neurologist who analyzed effects of the drug Neurontin told a court hearing Thursday that he advised its maker -- now a unit of Pfizer Inc. -- to include a warning on the drug's label for potential side effects of depression and aggression, but his advice wasn't followed.
The University of London neurologist, Michael R. Trimble, was testifying at a hearing to decide whether civil cases brought against Pfizer alleging suicides linked to Neurontin can proceed. . . .
Dr. Trimble described what he said was a "plausible biological pathway" that could lead from the compound gabapentin -- the chemical name for Neurontin -- to suicidal behavior, hostility, and aggression. Dr. Trimble said that in 1995 and 1996, he was hired to write two confidential reports for Parke-Davis -- now a unit of Pfizer -- because the company "was concerned about psychosis in relation to their drug." Dr. Trimble said he was unable to find a link to psychosis, but noted effects of depression and aggression.
Lawyers for Pfizer argued at the hearing that the evidence linking the drug to suicidal side effects wasn't scientifically sound. Under cross-examination, they challenged his description of a pathway as a patchwork of studies that didn't prove a biological connection. Neurontin and generic forms of gabapentin are approved for treating epileptic convulsions, but have also been prescribed widely "off label" for other conditions.