Not a PR Job for the Faint of Heart

Prescription pills"APCO Worldwide is supporting Merck's PR efforts for the controversial" -- and deadly -- "arthritis drug Vioxx, which was found to increase heart attack risk in patients," reports O'Dwyer's. The PR boost comes as the pharmaceutical company "acknowledged that it misidentified a statistical method used in the study that led it to pull Vioxx from the market," reports the Wall Street Journal. The admission calls into question Merck's claim that patients were only at risk if they took Vioxx for 18 months or longer. Doctors who oversaw the study "are planning to release new data" that "show risk as soon as four months after taking the drug," according to O'Dwyer's. More than 11,000 Vioxx-related lawsuits have been filed against Merck. The company had retained Burson-Marsteller for a $20 million "image campaign," after withdrawing Vioxx in 2004.