New Merck Allegations: A Fake Journal; Ghostwritten Studies; Vioxx Pop Songs; PR Execs Harass Reporters
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of CBS News
Posted: October 10th, 2014
Federal prosecutors in the U.S. will be reading with amusement the Australian press's coverage of a class action trial down under for patients who took Merck's now-withdrawn painkiller Vioxx. Details emerging in Oz make some of the antics that Merck's American counterparts got up to look tame by comparison. For example, in Australia, Merck allegedly: Had a doctor sign his name to an entirely ghostwritten journal article even though a Merck staffer had complained that the data within it was based on "wishful thinking;" created a fake "peer-reviewed" journal, the "Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine," in which to publicize pro-Vioxx articles; created a Ricky Martin-style pop song to get Merck sales reps all jazzed up about Vioxx; [and] hatched a Blackadder-style "cunning plan" to seed seminars with speakers who were sympathetic to Vioxx. Here's The Australian's description of the Merck PR team's over-the-top "handling" of reporters at ... a class action trial down under for patients who took Merck's now-withdrawn painkiller Vioxx: A hired crisis management team sits in court every day, under the guidance of Merck & Co's media spokeswoman flown out from the US, watching what journalists write, who they talk to and where they go in the court breaks. The team ... follow journalists out of court, ask them what they are writing, hand out daily press releases and send "background" emails they say should not be attributed to the company but which detail what they think are the "salient points" from the evidence presented in court. The team rings reporters first thing in the morning, accuses them of "cherry-picking" the evidence and bombards newspapers with letters to the editor arguing their case in detail based on the day's evidence - five were sent to The Australian in just seven days.
Note: FDA analysts estimated that Vioxx caused between 88,000 and 139,000 heart attacks, 30 to 40 percent of which were probably fatal, in the five years the drug was on the market. Read another CBS News article which shows how Merck literally created a hit list for doctors who opposed use of Vioxx. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.