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Merck used ghostwriters and selective data in Vioxx publications, JAMA says

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39553.344965.DB (Published 17 April 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:849
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. 1New York

    Researchers and editors claim in two papers and an editorial this week that Merck, the makers of the arthritis drug rofecoxib (Vioxx), misrepresented study results and used ghostwriters to prepare manuscripts for journal publication.

    The authors of the articles have drawn their evidence from thousands of documents released during lawsuits against Merck over adverse events related to the drug (JAMA 2008;299:1800-12, 1813-7, and 1833-5).

    Rofecoxib was withdrawn worldwide in September 2004 after a study showed that it doubled the risk of heart attack or stroke if it was taken for more than 18 months (BMJ 2004;329:816; doi: 10.1136/bmj.329.7470.816-a).

    Merck said in a statement that it “believes that many of the comments in a Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) news release and in the 16 April 2008 issue of JAMA related to Vioxx are false, misleading, or lack context.”

    The statement said, “The articles, based on analyses of documents conducted by consultants hired by trial lawyers as part of their work in the Vioxx product liability litigation, make allegations similar to …

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