Merck’s Vioxx scandal widens: Cherry Picking Studies for Publication

Drug maker knew Vioxx was deadly for years before risk was made public (opinion)

November 25, 2009

NaturalNews

The Vioxx scandal widened this week as new research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reveals that Vioxx maker Merck held data for three years that proved Vioxx caused an alarming increase in the risk of heart attacks and strokes. And yet Merck chose not to release that data. In fact, it took three more years of patients dying from heart attacks before Vioxx was pulled off the market, and even then, Merck insisted the drug was not dangerous.

This new study was based on a meta-analysis of several unpublished studies that Merck obviously didn’t want to see published in medical journals. Drug companies routinely engage in this subterfuge: They cherry-pick which studies they want published while burying the rest. They also choose which studies to forward to the FDA, all while claiming the whole charade is based on “evidence-based medicine.”

It is, sort of. If you add the word “selective” in front of the phrase, making it: “Selective evidence-based medicine.”

So how were the authors of this new study able to find these unpublished studies that Merck would much prefer remained hidden? They were disclosed in court proceedings against Merck. So many people were harmed by Vioxx, you see, that some of them decided to sue. And in that legal process, many “secret” studies were revealed. Some smart-minded researchers decided to analyze the data in those studies and that’s what reveals Merck knew Vioxx raised the risk of heart-related side effects by 35 percent and yet did nothing to warn the public about those risks.

In essence, these documents prove that Merck knowingly and maliciously allowed a deadly drug to continue to be sold to patients for years. It’s a clear case of profits before patients from a drug company mired in one scandal after another. (Merck is also the maker of Gardasil, the cervical cancer vaccine.)

In its defense, Merck says its own scientists couldn’t find any link between Vioxx and heart attack deaths. Understandably, it’s difficult to find anything when your profits depend on not finding it.

The Merck conspiracy

Now that this data is public, it reveals that Merck’s executives and / or employees were engaged in a conspiracy to withhold important drug safety data from the public and the FDA. The aim of this conspiracy was simple: To maximize profits through the sale of a product they knew was killing people.

Of course, only the naive are surprised to hear this. Informed NaturalNews readers already know this is the default behavior of drug companies. They’ll do anything to make a buck, including fabricating clinical trial data, withholding important evidence, misrepresenting their drugs in television ads and lobbying lawmakers to make their drugs mandatory. The idea that they would knowingly sell a deadly drug to the general public — while sitting on data for years that proved the drug was dangerous — isn’t really surprising. Not once you know how the pharmaceutical industry really works, anyway.

Many people (and many states) are fed up with the criminal behavior of drug companies. Nearly 10,000 individuals filed personal injury lawsuits against Merck over the Vioxx scandal. Most were settled for $4.85 billion in 2007, but many lawsuits remain. Eleven states’ Attorneys General have also filed lawsuits against Merck, alleging the company committed fraud in its marketing of the drug to state Medicaid programs. Those lawsuits have yet to be resolved.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.