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Merck defends Vioxx in court, as publisher apologises for fake journal

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 11 May 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1914
  1. Ray Moynihan
  1. 1Byron Bay, New South Wales

    Merck has begun the defence of its anti-arthritis drug rofecoxib (Vioxx) in the Federal Court of Australia, amid revelations that it lobbied to quash similar legal action in Britain, and as a publisher apologised for a journal sponsored by the company.

    The United States based company is fighting a class action from more than 1000 Australians, led by Graeme Peterson, who had a heart attack in 2003 after taking rofecoxib for several years.

    Over the past month Mr Peterson’s lawyers have released many internal company documents showing, they claim, how Merck’s marketing tried to minimise safety concerns about the drug and to “neutralise” and “discredit” potential critics. They also say that the company created an entire medical journal that appeared to be a legitimate peer reviewed journal but that in reality was simply a “marketing publication” (BMJ 2009;338:b1714, 28 Apr, doi:10.1136/bmj.b1714).

    Opening the …

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