AstraZeneca's Seroquel Research Director Confessed to Sex-for-Studies Affairs

Last Updated Mar 12, 2009 3:24 PM EDT

Former AstraZeneca U.S. medical director for Seroquel Wayne MacFadden confessed his multiple sexual affairs, and his offer of drugs to one of the women he was sleeping with, to lawyers in December 2007.

The confessions include descriptions of sex in hotel rooms paid for by AZ, illicit distribution of Vicodin, and a kinky relationship in which one of his colleagues asked to be "punished" for looking at a study that had negative results for Seroquel.

MacFadden told that woman: "You will be punished (in the usual fashion!) when I see you ... but perhaps more harshly this time!!!"

He made the confession to the lawyers -- who are suing AstraZeneca for allegedly failing to warn patients that side effects of the drug include significant weight gain and diabetes -- as part of a deposition prior to the current litigation going on in Florida. (See BNET's back story, "Email: AstraZeneca Knew in 1997 That Seroquel Caused Weight Gain.")

Between 2002 and 2006, MacFadden said he had slept with two executives who worked for AZ or its research agencies. He offered Vicodin to one of them. He also attempted to get confidential information about Bristol-Myers Squibb's FDA filing for a bipolar depression approval for rival drug Abilify, via a woman he was sleeping with.

The deposition transcripts have been redacted to hide the identities of the women involved, but other documents in the case indicate that many of MacFadden's colleagues had figured out that he was cheating on his wife with his work acquaintances.

The redactions leave it unclear how many women he slept with, but it was at least two and perhaps as many as four, the documents show.

What follows is a digest of quotes from the transcripts of various depositions and emails in the case. (Download some of the emails here.) The lawyers hoped to establish that the affairs constituted a conflict of interest that biased AZ's science. MacFadden is first asked about his compensation. His salary was $185,000, plus $25,000 per year in bonuses, plus options. That came to in excess of $200,000 a year.
Q: Weren't you fired? A: No. Q: So had you to resign, AstraZeneca would have kept you on?...Didn't AstraZeneca tell you either you resign or you're going to be fired? A: No ... I was given the opportunity to resign....There was a meeting about a month or so prior to my accepting the offer to resign in which I was confronted with personal email correspondences.


Q: Do you believe, in your roles as the senior director of clinical research, you acted with honor, integrity and ethics? A: In my professional responsibilities, yes. Q: Why are you qualifying that answer, sir? A: There are things in my personal life that I have regrets about.

... Q: Sir, the truth of the matter is, you were having an illicit sexual affair with REDACTED weren't you? A: I was having a personal affair with REDACTED yes. Q: You were having an intimate affair with REDACTED and you were doing it on company time, and you were doing it when you were a researcher for AstraZeneca, correct? Q: I would see REDACTED Usually, to the best of my recollection, it was off hours, but I can't state for sure if that's all true. Q: It wasn't all true was it? Y'all arranged to meet at conferences on the company dollar, right? A: We would meet occasionally at conferences, yes. Q: And in hotel rooms that the company paid for, AstraZeneca paying for both hotel rooms, right? A: My travel was generally reimbursed by AstraZeneca, yes.

... [Lawyer reads from an email]Q: Let's read it. Hey, "Babe, just as a friendly reminder, as requested, to obtain info from BMS re bipolar depression, specifically, when they plan to complete their trials & when they plan to file in the U.S...."... That's insider competitive information from Bristol-Myers Squibb on the product Abilify's filing for bipolar depression, correct? A: To the best of my knowledge I never received information from REDACTED or anyone else about this.

... Q: Sir, you're using sex to try to get trade secrets out of Bristol-Myers Squibb to benefit AstraZeneca. That's not only unethical, that's illegal, isn't it? A: I don't know that. Q: You were pumping her for information, correct? I withdraw that question. You were trying to get information out of her? A: It appears that I asked her for information. Q: And you promised her something if she succeeded, right? A: In a joking fashion, it apparently -- Q: "If you succeed ... there'll be a surprise in store for you" ... did I read that correctly? A: Yes.

... Q: By the way, you were having an illicit sexual affair with REDACTED too, weren't you? A: Yes. Q: She's another person who was involved in studies, this time at Parexel, right? A: She was an employee at Parexel, which is a company was involved with the publication process, yes.

Q:... because of the relationship that you had with this researcher REDACTED the excutive over at Parexel, that's what got you in the position where you were given an opportunity to resign, right? A: AstraZeneca confronted me with personal emails. To my recollection they were between REDACTED and I, and they eventually offered me the opportunity to resign. That's it.
The documents also include emails:
Jan. 13, 2006, from REDACTED to MacFadden: Just a quickie as I'm writing frantically at my desk trying to finish my quetiapine paper; hope your day is going well. Was wondering if you have access to a paper (you won't like it much because it says that quetiapine isn't as effective as olanzapine or risperidone!!!)...In fact I will probably need to be punished for even looking at it."
MacFadden's Reply:
Hi, doll, logged off early to hang with the kids ... hope this is not getting to you too late!!! And yes, you will be punished (in the usual fashion!) when I see you ... but perhaps more harshly this time!!!
In the deposition, MacFadden said this:
A: I believe this is a reference to sexual play. Q: Bondage? A: Perhaps.
On the subject of Vicodin:
Q: Did you offer to prescribe her Vicodin? A: I believe I made that offer at some point yes.

... Q: Does your wife know about any of this? A: My wife is aware of all these relationships that I had, yes. Q: When did she learn? A: She learned in 2006 ... The personal relationship caused family problems between my wife and I that contributed to my decision to accept the opportunity to resign.