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Takeda Pharmaceutical Admits Improper Marketing of Blood Pressure Medication

Mar 3, 2014

So-called “inappropriate expressions” were used to tout blood pressure medication, drug maker Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. admits.

The president of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Yasuchika Hasegawa, said in a Tokyo news conference recently that the firm used what he described as “inappropriate expressions” in its promotion of a Takeda drug used in the treatment of high blood pressure, according to a The Wall Street Journal report. Mr. Hasegawa said that although “inappropriate expressions” were used, his company never tampered with research data.

Mr. Hasegawa’s admission followed a Japanese health ministry announcement that it would be investigating questions raised by a doctor in Japan indicating that a graph that was used in the marketing of the drug did not appear to accurately reflect clinical study results, according to The Journal.

"We deeply regret and apologize for the fact that our promotional activities were partially inappropriate," Takeda CEO Yasuchika Hasegawa said at the news conference. "Our company hasn't manipulated or fabricated clinical research data," he added, according to The Journal.

The matter concerns a clinical trial conducted from 2001 to 2006 that was comparing the effects of two medications for hypertension: Takeda’s Blopress (candesartan) and a drug manufactured by Pfizer Inc., Norvasc (amlodipine). The news conference was rapidly called after questions were raised indicating that Takeda Pharmaceuticals appeared to be marketing Blopress as being more effective than Norvasc; this, although the clinical trial result found no difference between the two drugs, according to The Journal report.

Officials at Takeda stated that they used a graph that had been presented during a 2006 academic conference and not the graph that provided clinical trial results that were published in the February 2008 issue of the United States medical journal, Hypertension, according to The Journal. The later graph took into account differences in curves that were used to express the drugs’ effects.

Takeda also admitted to having used verbal expressions in its advertising that could cause potential misunderstandings regarding Takeda’s drug’s efficacy as being superior to the efficacy of the Pfizer medication, The Journal wrote.

According to Mr. Hasegawa, Takeda Pharmaceuticals had no access to research data, but does plan on putting a third-party panel into place to understand why the firm’s marketing was conducted improperly, according to The Journal.

Takeda has been embroiled in litigation over its Type II diabetes drug, Actos, over allegations that Takeda hid risks concerning bladder cancer from physicians and patients concerning potential Actos risks. Litigation involves accusations that because Takeda hid these risks, consumers were not appropriately warned and continued to take the drug. Various studies have associated the use of Actos to the development of bladder cancer at least as far back as 2011.

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