Abbott nixes info on Web, group claims

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Abbott employees have edited over 1,000 online Wikipedia entries involving some of the company's drug products in an attempt to change or remove unfavorable safety information, according to a patient advocacy group.

Washington, DC-based Patients Not Patents charges that an Abbott computer in Chicago was traced to have deleted safety information contained on Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) that was originally published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2006 about its arthritis drug Humira. The deleted safety information, which described Humira's association with cancer and infection risks, was restored by the site's editors, according to the group.

This same Abbott computer, according to the group, was used to delete articles on public interest groups' attempts to have Abbott's weight-loss drug, Meridia, banned after the drug was found to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke in some patients.

The identity of the computers  was obtained from WikiScanner.

A statement released by Abbott said: “Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia aggregated by the public and modified by the public. From time to time, Abbott does edit simple factual errors about the company or its products in Wikipedia to ensure that the general public has correct information—and we do so openly and transparently. We do not, however, advocate the anonymous removal of safety information, scientific studies or controversial discussions from any site as a practice at our company. Any such action we take very seriously and will investigate fully.”

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