Merck disguised “marketing publication” as medical journal to help promote Vioxx, court hears

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 28 April 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1714
  1. Ray Moynihan
  1. 1Byron Bay, Australia

    The Federal Court in Australia has heard allegations that the drug company Merck produced an entire medical journal as part of its marketing campaign to allay safety fears about Vioxx (rofecoxib), its cyclo-oxygenase-2 inhibitor, which was withdrawn in 2004.

    The allegations came during testimony from George Jelinek, an emergency doctor and journal editor. Dr Jelinek was called as an expert witness by lawyers acting for Graeme Peterson, who had a heart attack in 2003 after taking rofecoxib for several years and is lead plaintiff in a class action.

    Strongly defending the action, Merck’s position is that the drug didn’t cause the heart attack, and the company will present evidence showing it acted responsibly. Although Merck has paid almost $5bn (£3.4bn; €3.8bn) to settle US cases related to rofecoxib, it has not admitted causation, fault, or liability.

    Dr Jelinek gave evidence that the Australasian …

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