Friday, April 11, 2008

Why won't Schering-Plough follow Eli Lilly & Co.'s Lead?

Eli Lilly has agreed to disclose its grant practices, and payments. Merck & Co. is presently preparing to do so, according to published reports.

But Schering-Plough Corporation? "No way!", they say. Wouldn't such a disclosure put to bed the claims that SGP buys its recommendations from doctors?

". . . .Schering-Plough Corp., however, told the senator what he didn't want to hear: "We do not publish or have plans at the moment to publish a list of charitable contributions or educational grants that medical organizations have received from us. . . ."

". . . .A dozen of the nation's leading drug and device makers have told Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, that they have plans or are working on plans to publicly disclose grants to outside groups. The details will be provided on each company's Web sites.

Watchdog groups say the companies are trying to head off legislation that would require public disclosure of their giving. . . ."

[Emphasis supplied.]

It is interesting that Schering's spokespeople are taking a hard line, here, when they MUST know that Sen. Grassley's March 31, 2008 letter requires even more-detailed disclosures -- about influencing doctors to use Vytorin/Zetia, pre- and post-ENHANCE -- and all that data is due to the Senator this Monday -- in three days' time. Else, his Committee will simply issue a subpoena, compelling the delivery of the documents about the so-called "49 Plan" -- some $3.5 million worth. . . . That approach -- stalling -- will earn Schering nothing, except more lawsuits and headaches, in my opinion.

Moreover, Merck & Co., Schering's partner in the Vytorin/Zetia Joint Venture, has indicated it will make many of these payments public, now. That means Merck will likely disclose grants/payments made to the Vytorin/Zetia "Medical Opinion Leaders".

How venial and small will Schering appear, if the only way the world finds out about those payments is through Merck & Co.'s voluntary disclosures -- while Schering-Plough in essense stone-walls, and forces Sen. Grassley to authorize the issuance of a Congressional Suboena Duces Tecum, from the Senate Finance Committee? Odd Public Relations strategy, that.

Such an approach makes absolutely no sense -- for a company in the middle of a publicity fire-storm -- especially one that purports to have nothing to hide.

We'll see.

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