Judge: CafePharma posts stay in Schering case

It looks as if CafePharma is getting another 15 minutes of fame. A federal judge will allow anonymous postings on the site's forum to remain as evidence in a suit against Schering-Plough. That decision is sure to reignite the brouhaha over Vytorin and the controversial Enhance study.

Schering and its Vytorin partner Merck delayed releasing the Enhance results for some time, and then felt a major backdraft as the data showed Vytorin--a combo of Zocor (simvastatin) and Zetia--to be no more effective at staving off atherosclerosis than Zocor was alone. Some investors sued, saying they were misled; among the evidence they submitted were CafePharma postings that suggest Schering execs knew Enhance had failed--and knew long before the study results were made public.

Schering has said that the study data remained blinded until shortly before the results were publicly released and that the delay in releasing the data stemmed from worries about its validity. Critics said that the results would have been clear, even if the data were still blinded.

Anonymous postings at CafePharma characterized the study in more colorful language: "[T]he study is a bust," one poster wrote several months before the January 2008 release of the Enhance results. "Heard it crashed and burned!" another wrote. The site was asked for the names of the authors, but CafePharma doesn't keep information identifying individuals who post there. In any case, the judge decided that anonymity did not make the posts irrelevant. 

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