NMT Medical is suing a British researcher, who is known as a whistleblower, for slandering and libeling the company after being quoted as saying a trial for a device for closing congenital holes in the heart may have failed because the product was faulty.
The lawsuit is pending in London after a clinical trial failed to show that its device could stop migraine headaches in people with the congenital heart opening.
The researcher, Peter Wilmshurst, who is a a cardiologist in Shrewsbury, England,was also quoted as saying the company had not made trial data public because it feared that it might have a negative result on sales of the device for other uses.
“I’m not as concerned about the companies as I am about the fact that the patients who are in the studies will suffer,” Wilmshurst said.
Executives at NMT Medical, which is based in Boston, Mass., and another researcher involved in the trial say Wilmshurst turned on them because the trial’s failure undermined his theory. “Everything was being completely torn to shreds by his attacks,” said John E. Ahern, the company’s chief executive. “We felt it was appropriate to protect the good name of this company and the work it does.”
Wilmshurst responded through his lawyer to written questions. But in those responses, published interviews and court papers, he has said that the medical study may have been compromised because the NMT Medical device frequently failed to seal off blood flow within the heart. He has also claimed that the company failed to share all diagnostic tests with him, findings that might prove his contention.
A trial date for the lawsuit has not yet been set.