Exclusive: 'Science for Sale' Probe Deepens

Lawmakers say firm crowed of its success in keeping harmful drug on the market.


March 11, 2008— -- A scientific consulting firm once crowed of its success in delaying the cancellation of a harmful drug by 10 years, congressional investigators say.

Lawmakers have more tough questions for the D.C.-based Weinberg Group, which has been accused of "manufacturing uncertainty" about research to benefit its corporate clients and their products.

Last month, Congress opened an investigation into the firm's activities they allege generated uncertainty over a dangerous chemical in plastic bottles. Now, investigators for the House Energy and Commerce Committee say they have obtained deleted pages from the Weinberg Group's Web site where the firm took credit for delaying the cancellation of a harmful drug for nearly a decade at the request of two pharmaceutical clients, and other industry victories.

The firm's efforts "led to an extensive process" and eventually "10 additional years of sales prior to the ultimate cancellation of the drug," according to a printout of the page provided to ABC News by the committee.

In a March 6 letter, the committee asked Weinberg to turn over documents naming that drug, its manufacturers and the experts it involved in allegedly keeping the drug on sale. It also asked for documents and information on 10 other case studies formerly featured on the firm's Web site.

Another since-deleted case study investigators say they found told how the firm "debunked" cancer research indicating certain hair dye increased users' cancer risk. A third that investigators shared with ABC News related to how the Weinberg Group won its client the right to continue using chlorofluorocarbons, which are known to harm the environment, despite a global ban covering most sources of the substances.

"These case studies...appear to take credit for keeping drugs with dangerous side effects on the market and for keeping in circulation other products that may be harmful to consumers," said committee chairman John Dingell, D-Mich.

In a statement faxed to ABC News Monday afternoon, the Weinberg Group said it is a "science-based business consulting firm" which adheres to "principles of scientific integrity."

"The Weinberg Group intends to cooperate fully in the investigation being conducted," the statement said.

Click Here for the Investigative Homepage.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events