More Heart Attacks for Merck

Prescription pillsTwo studies of internal Merck documents concluded that the pharmaceutical company had "violated scientific-publishing ethics by ghostwriting dozens of academic articles, and minimized the impact of patient deaths in its analyses of some human trials." The internal documents surfaced during litigation against Merck, by people who had taken the painkiller Vioxx and suffered heart attacks or other problems. Five of the six authors of the studies, which were published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, "served as paid consultants to plaintiffs' lawyers in Vioxx lawsuits." One study found that medical papers on Vioxx "were often prepared by unacknowledged authors and subsequently attributed authorship to academically affiliated investigators who often did not disclose financial support." The other study concluded that Merck "neither provided to the FDA nor made public in a timely fashion" evidence that Vioxx use was linked to increased risk of death. A Merck researcher called the findings "false and misleading."