For proof that pharma does, in fact, know how to use Twitter threads, Pfizer responded on the platform to an investigative Washington Post report about its autoimmune drug Enbrel and Alzheimer’s.
The Post story claimed that Pfizer had proof, through an analysis of hundreds of thousands of insurance claims, that its psoriatic arthritis drug Enbrel could also prevent Alzheimer’s, but it decided not to pursue trials examining Alzheimer’s and Enbrel. The Post also reported that Pfizer decided to keep that information secret.
The story suggested that Pfizer did not make that decision based on science, but on the fact that Enbrel’s patent would soon expire. Therefore, new trials would likely not result in financial gain.
That’s the part Pfizer didn’t like.
In its Twitter response, Pfizer asserted that the decision was indeed based on science. The company said the “weakness of scientific evidence,” meaning the analysis of the insurance claims, did not suggest trials in Alzheimer’s would be successful.
Going beyond simply denying the Post report, Pfizer also noted that it funded independent research on Enbrel and Alzheimer’s.
Alzhiemer’s is a particular pain point in pharma. Experimental drugs from major companies such as Merck, Biogen and Eli Lilly have all failed trials in recent years. Many drugmakers, including Pfizer, are pulling investments in Alzheimer’s drug discovery.
Pfizer, which sells Enbrel outside of North America, and Amgen, which sells it within the U.S. and Canada, both denied in the Post story that the decision was made for commercial or financial reasons. However, Pfizer clearly wanted to take its side of the story to the public, as well.