Pfizer and its lipitor study – lies or statistical error?

I see that Pfizer has been hiding negative data about Lipitor – thanks to CL Pysch (and Ed Silverman at Pharmalot who was first on the case with this story way back on 14 June!)

Pfizer conducted a study comparing Lipitor to Zocor and found positive results. Naturally, a favorable press release was issued, which opened by stating…

A retrospective analysis of a large U.S. managed care database showed that patients who took Pfizer’s cholesterol-lowering medicine Lipitor® (atorvastatin calcium) Tablets had a significant 14 percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes, compared with patients who took simvastatin.

An “independent” academic was also featured in the press release, stating…

“This analysis is important for physicians, employers and formulary directors at managed care companies who are making real-world treatment decisions for patients,” said Dr. Robert Vogel, an author of the study and professor of medicine at the University of Maryland. “This further supports the cardiovascular benefits previously seen with Lipitor.”

So far so good – another drug company producing positive research to sell one of its products and trumpeting the results through the press.

There’s only one slight problem… it turns out the analysis was wrong. The difference between Lipitor and Zocor was not statistically significant – someone made an error during data analysis.

So what does Pfizer do – issue another press release to correct its lie (sorry, statistical error)?

Or maybe just quietly release the less favorable data analysis and not make a fuss?

Hmmm. Tough choice.

The answer is here.


3 Responses to “Pfizer and its lipitor study – lies or statistical error?”

  1. ed s Says:

    Just to let you know this company’s refusal to issue a press release earlier this month was first reported on Pharmalot.


  2. admin Says:

    The post has been altered accordingly.

    Apologies Mr S.

  3. cmahoneyfnp Says:

    did pfizer do the study on niaspan’s negative issue?

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