If you don’t own a Tivo, you probably have watched a few ads from Merck, the maker of now banned arthritis drug Vioxx. Since the recall of the drug in September last year, a lot of documents have emerged that show that not only did Merck knew about the dangerous side effects of Vioxx as early as 2000, the company also only hid these from the public and the FDA. In addition to that, it also marketed the drug heavily to people who were least likely to benefit from it.
So why is Merck advertising on TV now? Well, first it no longer talks about its drugs and why you should talk to your doctor about them. Instead, it wants you to believe that it is actually a company that cares for you. “Merck, where patients come first,” the company’s motto, has been a joke for quite a while now since the FDA estimates that as many as 140,000 personal injuries on Americans were inflicted by Merck and of these an estimated 50,000 Americans are actually dead.
As it also turns out, according to Jim Hightower of Austin Chronicle, Merck also works behind the screen against another interest of American people – being able to import prescription drugs from Canada or Mexico. Through an army of lobbyists paid for by Merck and other drug companies, the Bush Administration continues to ban import of drugs (something that poorest Americans absolutely must for their survival).
So next time you watch a Merck ad that tries to tell you what a great company it is, watch it with a grain of salt. And get ready to learn more ugly facts about the company as attorneys for Cheryl Rogers and Carol Ernst reveal them during trials in coming weeks.
In the meantime, after a Vioxx attorney leaked a Merck memo that showed that the company knew about the dangers of of the drug as early as 2000, the judge, Carol Higbee, is going to investigate who it was and take action on it since she had granted Merck’s request to keep this document (mistakenly given to attorneys) confidential, according to the Star Ledger.
In a related development, Merck is also fighting with lawyers representing Vioxx victims so that it too can interview doctors who prescribed Vioxx and sales rep who ruthlessly sold Vioxx. U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon has agreed to reconsider his previous decision, according to Adam Nossiter of AP.