At a 2004 retreat designed to prepare sales reps for the marketing launch of Abilify as a treatment for bipolar disorder, Bristol-Myers Squibb aired a video in which a patient, Andy Behrman, recounted how the drug changed his life for the better.
“Since I switched to Abilify, almost all the side effects have gone away,” he said. “In fact, all of them have gone away.”
Behrman continued to rave about Abilify through 2005. He pocketed $400,000 from BMS in return for the favor.
Now, Behrman claims he’d taken the drug for just 4 days before the video was shot, and subsequently he did experience side effects like dizziness and restless legs which forced him to discontinue the drug less than a year after he started it.
Behrman insists he informed BMS about the side effects before the end of 2005.
BMS claims it never instructed Behrman to misrepresent his experience with Abilify, and that he never raised concerns about the drug until it refused to extend his contract.
Recently, BMS released an email showing that Behrman wanted to be paid $7.5 million for the extension.
Behrman claims BMS forged the email to discredit him and that he’s speaking out now because his NDA with the company expired just recently. He says he wants people to know about the drug’s side effects, and the extensive marketing that drove its success.
Behrman says he doesn’t care what people think about his flip-flops. “I think it is normal to have had a lapse in judgment because I was handled and manipulated by so many people,” he told the Wall Street Journal.
Abilify generated $2.15 billion in revenues for BMS last year.