BMJ exposes UK drugmaker’s astroturf attempt

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Pharmalot blogger Ed Silverman reports that, had they not been exposed by BMJ, the UK pharmaceutical company Norgine probably would have gotten away with quietly organizing doctors and patient groups to submit a letter to The Times protesting a government plan to require substituting generic drugs for brand-name ones where applicable. Norgine’s name appeared nowhere on the letter, which was written by a PR firm they’d hired. Furthermore, several patient groups which signed the letter also received funding from pharmaceutical companies.

In the end though, Silverman writes, Norgine came away from the incident pretty well, considering the outcry over their stunt.

Norgine may have had the last laugh, however. Apart from being lambasted publicly for being a secretive and manipulative company, the drugmaker issued a celebratory press release earlier this month trumpeting the decision by the government to scrap the proposed automatic generic substitution plan.

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