Thursday, January 31, 2008

GSK - Avandia: Dr Haffner is busted

A leading member of the Senate said Wednesday that a prominent diabetes expert had leaked an unpublished and confidential medical journal article to GlaxoSmithKline last year, tipping the company to the imminent publication of safety questions involving the company’s diabetes drug Avandia.

The expert, Dr. Steven M. Haffner of the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, faxed the article to the drug maker after agreeing to read it as part of the peer-review process for The New England Journal of Medicine, according to a statement Wednesday by Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa.

“The most troubling aspect of this situation is that the integrity of another aspect of the scientific process is called into question — scientific peer review,” Mr. Grassley’s statement said. The peer-review process, he said, is meant to ensure “that other scientists will judge a study’s quality before it is made public.”

Read more from Stephanie Saul at the NYT here.

“The three major medical journals are becoming more like British tabloid newspapers. All they lack is a bare-chested woman on Page 3,” Dr. Haffner was quoted as saying.

In San Antonio, medical school dean William L. Henrich also issued a statement, saying: "This issue has just come to light on our campus. We are embarking on a complete investigation of the facts. Once the facts are understood, we will take swift and appropriate action."

Haffner was a co-author of a 2006 New England Journal article that was highly supportive of Avandia. In that study, financed by GlaxoSmithKline, Haffner reported receiving grant support and consulting and lecture fees from the company.

Busted - Dr Haffner!

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