Two articles in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) have raised fresh concerns about drug company influence on medical research.
One article reports that the drug maker Merck drafted dozens of research studies for its best-selling drug Vioxx, then lined up prestigious doctors after the fact to put their names on the reports before publication. The article cited one draft of a Vioxx research study that identified the lead writer only as “External author?”
The second article contends that Merck minimized deaths in two studies that showed Vioxx did not work to treat or prevent Alzheimer's disease. According to JAMA, although Vioxx patients in the studies had a higher death rate than those taking placebos, Merck did not publicize this information in a timely fashion, and downplayed the deaths in the information they provided to federal regulators.
Vioxx was a best-selling drug before Merck pulled it from the market in 2004 over evidence linking it to heart attacks. Last fall the company agreed to a $4.85 billion settlement to resolve thousands of lawsuits filed by former Vioxx patients or their families.
According to JAMA, analysis shows that Merck manipulated dozens of publications to promote Vioxx.
* New York Times April 15, 2008
* CNN April 16, 2008