Vioxx maker Merck and Co drew up doctor hit list

For further information, contact Melissa Maimann at Essential Birth Consulting. Link to article

OK, so you may be wondering what on earth this article is doing on my blog. Well, it's about Vioxx. And if you had a caesarean in the early 2000s, you may well have been prescribed this drug for pain management. I was always suspicious when a minority of hopitals I worked at prescribed this drug, as the majority of hospitals prescribed the more common frugs such as Voltaren or Nurofen for post-op pain relief.

Merck is the same company that claims to have the cure for cervical cancer in the form of the Gardasil vaccination. Many have reported side effects after using this vaccination.

AN international drug company made a hit list of doctors who had to be "neutralised" or discredited because they criticised the anti-arthritis drug the pharmaceutical giant produced.

Staff at US company Merck &Co emailed each other about the list of doctors ... who had been negative about the drug Vioxx or Merck and a recommended course of action.

... It is also alleged the company used intimidation tactics against critical researchers, including dropping hints it would stop funding to institutions and claims it interfered with academic appointments.

"We may need to seek them out and destroy them where they live," a Merck employee wrote ...

Merck & Co and its Australian subsidiary, Merck, Sharpe and Dohme, are being sued for compensation by more than 1000 Australians, who claim they suffered heart attacks or strokes as a result of Vioxx.

The drug was launched in 1999 and at its height of popularity was used by 80 million people worldwide because it did not cause stomach problems as did traditional anti-inflammatory drugs.

It was voluntarily withdrawn from sale in 2004 after concerns were raised that it caused heart attacks and strokes and a clinical trial testing these potential side affects was aborted for safety reasons.

... Merck last year settled thousands of lawsuits in the US over the effects of Vioxx for $US4.85billion ($7.14 billion) but made no admission of guilt.

The company is fighting the class action in Australia.

The Federal Court was told yesterday that Merck wanted to gain the backing of researchers and doctors - or "opinion leaders" - in the fields of arthritis to help promote the drug to medical professionals when it was launched in 1999.

... internal emails ... showed the company was not happy with what some researchers and doctors were saying about the drug.

"It gives you the dark side of the use of key opinion leaders and thought leaders ... if (they) say things you don't like to hear, you have to neutralise them," he said ...

The court was told that James Fries, professor of medicine at Stanford University, wrote to the then Merck head Ray Gilmartin in October 2000 to complain about the treatment of some of his researchers who had criticised the drug.

"Even worse were allegations of Merck damage control by intimidation," he wrote, according to Mr Burnside.

... Mr Burnside told the court Dr Fries went on to describe instances of intimidation, including one colleague who thought his academic appointment had been jeopardised and another who received phone calls alleging "anti-Merck" bias.

... Merck had been systematically playing down the side effects of Vioxx and said the company's behaviour "seriously impinges on academic freedom" ...

"In every possible way the company exerted itself to present the impression to the world at large that Vioxx did not provide any increased cardio risk ... when (a) it probably would and (b) it probably did,"...

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448