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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Merck Inquiry Backs Conduct Over Vioxx - New York Times: "Merck Inquiry Backs Conduct Over Vioxx
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Published: September 7, 2006
After 20 months and $21 million, the investigator that Merck�s board hired to examine the company�s conduct regarding Vioxx has rendered his verdict: The company behaved more or less perfectly.
So said a former federal judge, John S. Martin Jr., after an inquiry into whether the senior management at Merck hid the risks of Vioxx, its former best-selling pain drug.
�The report is essentially a very positive report, because that�s the conclusion I reached,� Mr. Martin said at a news conference yesterday to discuss his findings. The investigation by his law firm, Debevoise & Plimpton, was entirely independent, Mr. Martin said.
Mark Lanier, a lawyer for plaintiffs, said the report was a whitewash that contained no new information about Merck�s actions and had been prepared primarily to bolster the company�s defense in the civil suits.
In the report�s main body, there appear to be no company documents, e-mail messages or other evidence that has not already been publicly disclosed in the two years since Merck stopped selling Vioxx.
Nor did investigators involved in preparing the report interview Dr. Steven E. Nissen, Dr. Eric J. Topol or other prominent scientists who have criticized Merck, Mr. Martin said.
Merck stopped selling Vioxx in September 2004 after a clinical trial showed the drug could cause heart attacks and strokes. More than 30,000 people have sued the company, contending that Vioxx caused heart problems.
In four of the eight suits to reach a verdict, jurors have found the company liable, and in each of those cas"


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