Sometimes, when it comes to drafting posts for The Insider, a little digging can turn up remarkable results. This week’s post demonstrates the point, as it originates from short news stories that appeared recently in two journals that may not be so well known: Medwatch, based in Copenhagen, and Stat, headquartered in Boston. Both sites cover the pharmaceutical and health care industries, and both deserve considerable appreciation, because what they have uncovered is alarming and even disturbing: in the pharmaceutical industry, despite a recent increase in legal protections, you can still go to prison for posting truthful statements on social media about government-approved prescription medications.
With that introduction, some context is certainly in order. As the Medwatch and Stat articles both indicate, Danish law enforcement officials are currently investigating a potential violation of Danish law regarding an anti-cancer drug that has been approved for sale in no fewer than twenty-five countries and economic regions, including the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada, Mexico, South Korea, and Russia. The drug in question – Kyprolis, which is also known by the generic name Carfilzomib – is a prescription medication used to treat patients with multiple myeloma, a cancer that forms in a specific type of white blood cell and impedes the production of infection-fighting antibodies. On August 30, 2017, Amgen issued a press release indicating that, based on a study requested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, patients who were administered Kyprolis after a multiple myeloma relapse had a reduced risk of death as compared to those who used an alternative chemotherapy drug called Velcade. At some point thereafter, according to Stat, an Amgen employee in Denmark posted a link to the press release on his or her LinkedIn page, and then liked the post.