2 Can Play That Game: Pfizer Claims Witness-Tampering in Neurontin Case

Last Updated Sep 18, 2009 12:48 PM EDT

Pfizer can play hardball too. A few weeks after sustaining a black eye in the Neurontin litigation when it sent an ex-CIA agent to the home of a plaintiffs' witness, Pfizer has accused the plaintiffs' side of doing something similar: an expert witness for the family of a man who killed himself while on Neurontin is improperly trying to sway testimony of the dead man's doctor, Pfizer says. The plaintiffs' witness is Dr. David Egilman. He sent a bundle of "cherry-picked" Neurontin documents to the doctor of the late Hartley Shearer. Witnesses are not supposed to talk to each other before a trial.

Egilman's name will be familiar to followers of drug company litigation: He was the guy who leaked a bunch of Zyprexa documents to the New York Times, earning a ruling from the judge in that case that called reporter Alex Berenson "reprehensible." Pfizer describes Egilman thus:
... a discredited, twice-sanctioned professional witness with an unclear relationship with Plaintiff's counsel ...
Judges have accused him twice before of leaking stuff in drug trials, Pfizer's memo notes:
... a Colorado court found that Dr. Egilman "knowingly, intentionally, deliberately, and willfully" violated a protective order by posting certain "scurrilous and inflammatory statements" on his website, which were "grossly inappropriate" and placed at "risk the fairness of the trial."
Egilman disputes this, noting that the judge's findings were eventually overturned on appeal after it emerged that the "leaked" documents had actually been stolen from Egilman's password-protected web site. (There's a reference to that in a footnote on page 6 of Pfizer's memo.) One of the lawyers who did that was later sanctioned by the Texas bar, Egilman told BNET. (Download a copy of a deposition in which a lawyer admits using a password to access the site without Egilman's permission here.)

Pfizer continues:
... more recently, Judge Weinstein sanctioned Dr. Egilman in the Zyprexa litigation for conspiring with a reporter and an attorney to violate a protective order by publicly disseminating confidential documents of defendant Eli Lilly.
Judge Weinstein found that Dr. Egilman, in violation of his legal obligations ... deliberately violated this court's protective order and published sealed documents, intending that they be widely distributed. ... Egilman ... took particular pains to deny Lilly an opportunity to prevent the breach; they made the documents public before Lilly could move to preclude their release, after they had in effect assured Lilly that it had time to protect itself in court before any release would occur.
Egilman paid $100,000 to Lilly for that action.

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