Novartis employee says she was fired for pointing out incorrect data on eye drug

A former Novartis employee says she was fired for encouraging Novartis to correct false data about its eye drug, Beovu, STAT reported

Earlier this week, STAT reported that the American Society of Retina Specialists raised concern that Beovu, which was approved last October, caused several cases of retinal vasculitis. 

Novartis responded by telling STAT it is conducting a safety review of the drug, which was designed to treat wet age-related macular degeneration. 

Zuhal Butuner, the former employee who was the worldwide brand medical director for Beovu, filed a lawsuit last year claiming her attempts to correct inaccurate data on the drug led to her firing. 

Ms. Butuner said in the lawsuit that the incorrect data indicated that the rate of stroke and heart attacks for Eylea, Regeneron's competing eye drug, was twice the rate of Novartis' drug. Ms. Butuner said the rate was actually comparable between the two drugs, STAT reported. 

She allegedly suggested in March 2018 that Novartis issue a press release or send letters to physicians about the error. She was fired later that year. 

Ms. Butuner "reasonably believed that Novartis’ failure to disclose material information violated consumer safety laws, was fraudulent or criminal, and/or violated public policy concerning public health, safety, and welfare," the lawsuit states. 

A Novartis spokesperson told STAT: "The lawsuit by Zuhal Butuner, a former Novartis employee who was terminated for company policy violations, is without merit. Novartis is vigorously defending against the lawsuit."

Read the full article here.

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