Merck Vioxx –Systematized Conflict of Interest

Merck with their Vioxx deceptions is not by any means unique. Consider the long standing obfuscation of side effects in hormone replacement therapy, the epo/procrit fiascoes, and the standard practice of maximizing minimal advances.

Regarding Vioxx:

“Merck waged a campaign of deception to promote its drug, moving slowly to warn of possible hazards while at the same time dressing up in-house studies as the work of independent academic researchers.”

“Merck gave the Food and Drug Administration an incomplete accounting of deaths in a clinical trial of Vioxx in people with mild dementia.”

“Merck was using what the JAMA authors call “guest authorship and ghostwriting” to make it appear that research done by its employees or contractors was the work of scientists at medical schools and universities. That presumably gave the findings more credibility when they were published, in medical journals, boosting Vioxx’s profile in the crowded painkiller market.”

Disclosure of associations by authors does not fully reveal the extent of the conflict of interest. We need to divorce evaluators of a drug’s performance from the company manufacturing it. Anything less opens the door to shenanigans as occurred with Vioxx and perhaps even more egregious deceptions.

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