Report: Pfizer kept Alzheimer's drug info secret

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A major drug company is defending itself against accusations it kept promising and possibly life-saving data secret.

The Washington Post reports that Pfizer decided against sharing findings that suggested one of its drugs, Enbrel, might help prevent and treat Alzheimer's.

The Post reported that Pfizer researchers found in 2015 that the rheumatoid arthritis medication might reduce the risk of Alzheimer's by 64%.

The findings were based on an analysis of hundreds of thousands of insurance claims.

The Post says after several years of internal discussion, the company decided not to investigate Enbrel for Alzheimer's any further.

"There were advocates inside Pfizer who said Pfizer need to conduct a clinical trial that would cost around 80 million dollars. The controversy comes in when Pfizer opted against doing that clinical trial. Then they also opted against publishing anything they had found out about this and kind of just moved on," says Christopher Rowland, the reporter who wrote the story.

What some believe is a potentially ground-breaking health discovery is raising serious questions.

Pfizer tells ABC News: "Our decision not to publish a statistical analysis of insurance claims data, and our decision not to pursue a broader clinical trial in Alzheimer's Disease based on such statistical analysis were based first and foremost on scientific rationale and not on the vbasis of financial incentives as the story seems to imply,"

Cleveland Clinic Alzheimer's specialist Jagan Pillai says while the possible link between anti-inflammatory medications and Alzheimer's disease has been studied before, but Pfizer's information, had it been shared, might have advanced the research.

"I think more data being available is a better thing- we can decide for ourselves is there something meaningful for us to take action," says Dr. Pillai.

The Alzheimer's Association adds to that, saying: Any science that has promise in treating or preventing this disease that isn't pursued or shared does a disservice to millions of people.
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