Wednesday, February 06, 2008

It Wasn't Pepper's Fault! Berenson Confirms.

Since we're pharmaceutical product liability defense lawyers, we keep our ears pretty close to the ground in that sandbox. (Yeah, yeah: We get a lot of sand in our ears.) Anyway, we heard rumors that we had spread false information. We had written that a mis-directed e-mail from Pepper Hamilton to Alex Berenson of The New York Times prompted Berenson's front-page article about Eli Lilly's talks with prosecutors to pay $1 billion to settle charges of impropriety in the marketing of Zyprexa.

That story originally appeared at We were, we think, the first to repeat the misinformation in the post we published yesterday. But we weren't alone, as the story ricocheted around the web from Starkman to Above the Law to Pharmalot to the Wall Street Journal Law Blog. If this story wasn't true, then none of us should have been spreading the rumor.

The story wasn't true.

We don't know anything about journalistic propriety, so we picked up the phone and called Alex Berenson at the Times. We asked him whether a misdirected e-mail from Pepper to Sidley & Austin had prompted his front-page story.

It did not. Berenson did receive a mis-directed e-mail from Pepper, but that e-mail did not contain a detailed description of the status of the settlement talks. Berenson had known independently about the settlement talks for some time, and he obtained the details he published in the Times from sources other than Pepper.

We apologize, Pepper Hamilton. We shouldn't have unfairly accused you, and we hope that this post helps to set the record straight.

(But you've gotta admit, it was a heckuva story -- "There but for the grace of God go I" -- while it lasted. If only it had been true.)

Sorry about that, folks.

4 comments: said...

Why doesn't someone ask if they ever saw the email or if her source ever saw the actual email? Bet they didn't.

Anonymous said...

I take it that the evidence for the story not being true is that Berenson says it isn't true. And that the evidence for it being true is that he received the email (which he admits - as he'd have to - it's easy to prove). And you believe Berenson's denial. Right.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is totally right. Berenson (Alex) appears to be covering for a source at Pepper. Wise up.

Anonymous said...

Why did the Pepper attorney have Alex Berenson in her email contacts? Whether or not the mistake email contained a detailed description of the settlement talks, the mere fact that there was a mistake email sent to Berenson is revealing.

Given Berenson's role in evading a confidentiality order governing Zyprexa documents, I think you'd be justified in being a bit more skeptical of his denial -- or at least parsing it a bit more carefully. Reading between the lines, sure sounds like he has a source at Pepper.