AstraZeneca’s weight gain and diabetes side effect cover up, and the sleazy Seroquel sex scandal

In the staid world of drug research, this is about as scandalous as it gets.

The antipsychotic drug quetiapine, or Seroquel, is coming under fire. As MedPage Today reports, damning e-mails from the past are resurfacing, implicating the drug maker for “burying” studies linking the drug to weight gain and diabetes.

But here’s where it gets juicy.

AstraZeneca’s former US medical director has admitted prior sexual relationships with both a researcher involved with the Seroquel studies, as well as with a ghost-writer who helped write journal articles involving the drug.

Psychiatrist Daniel Carlat comments further, and points to public court documents, which say the relationships with the women were “relevant and highly probative evidence of one high level AstraZeneca employee’s determination to exploit his sexual relationships with these women in order to elevate Seroquel’s status in the prescribing medical community through supposedly ‘independent’ publications of Seroquel safety and efficacy data . . . Moreover, the mere existence of these relationships calls into question the integrity of the scientific work product of those involved.”

Sex for positive drug spin? That’s a first, and I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of this scandal.