Turns out, Rudy Tanzi didn't see much of a story about a hidden link between Enbrel and Alzheimer's either
The Washington Post managed to whip up the quickest industry consensus I’ve ever seen that one of its reporters was purveying overblown nonsense with a story that Pfizer was sitting on data suggesting that Enbrel could be an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s.
In covering that bit of anti-Big Pharma fantasy — there are lots of reasons to go after pharma, but this piece was ludicrous — I noted comments in the story from some prominent people in the field criticizing Pfizer for not publishing the data. I singled out Rudy Tanzi at Harvard and then applied some added criticism for the things he’s done to hype — in my opinion — highly questionable assumptions. You can see it in the link.
Tanzi followed up with me in a note, and it turns out that he doesn’t feel there was a story here either. In the interest of fairness, I feel that I should share it with readers.
Dear Mr. Carroll:
I have enjoyed reading your article and recently read your less than complimentary piece that focused on the amyloid hypothesis and, particularly, my activities in that area.
At another time, I would be happy to discuss the amyloid hypothesis, and topics such as when is the right time to treat amyloid, e.g. preferably pre-symptomatically as a preventative for Alzheimer’s (versus doing so as a treatment for those already suffering with dementia). We could also discuss the importance of, instead, targeting neuroinflammation in symptomatic patients.
But, here, I wanted to clarify some facts about the article on Pfizer and Enbrel in the Washington Post as I believe it nay have been my quote in that piece that triggered your article featuring me.
The journalist of that article called me and said he learned from an employee that Pfizer has data that Enbrel will help Alzheimer’s disease but did not release it, and furthermore would not perform a trial because Enbrel was going off (or is off?) patent.
Being given no other details, I said I understand they have a fiduciary obligation to shareholders regarding doing a billion dollar trial on a generic drug.
He then asked “well, should they release the data”. Without knowing what kind of data he was talking about, I said “Sure, why not?”
He then used this quote to portray me as a critic of Pfizer in his storyline. This was unfortunate, give the reality of the short interview.
When I later learned that the Pfizer Enbrel data came from a correlation in insurance health records with no replication, I could readily understand why they would not release it—no story there..at least not yet. I then tweeted this along with Pfizer’s “defense” tweet.
I felt compelled to provide you with this background. I would also welcome the opportunity to discuss Alzheimer’s pathology and therapies sometime in the future.
Thank you for listening.
With best wishes,