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Vioxx disaster shows health hazards of prescription drugs, failure of FDA to protect the public

Monday, October 04, 2004
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com (See all articles...)
Tags: Vioxx, Merck, pharmaceuticals

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There is a new national uproar over a prescription drug, Vioxx, which has been an extremely popular anti-inflammatory drug manufactured and marketed by Merck. Vioxx was recently pulled from the market by Merck after studies revealed the drug increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is the nation's leading cause of death. Vioxx is reportedly taken by 1.3 million Americans, all of whom now are scrambling to find alternatives for the drug they were once promised was a miracle-class drug that would solve their inflammation problems without causing stomach ulcers or gastrointestinal distress.

But this news really isn't about Vioxx -- it's about the safety of pharmaceuticals and the priorities of the FDA in protecting public health. People are finally beginning to ask the question: why was Vioxx approved and heavily marketed through direct-to-consumer advertising when its safety wasn't proven? How is it that we can find out years after the drug has been introduced and promoted and heavily prescribed by doctors that it actually causes another chronic disease?

This certainly isn't news to those of you who are regular readers of this site. We've been talking about the hidden dangers of prescription drugs for years. As you well know, virtually all prescription drugs are fraudulently studied, approved, and marketed in order to generate profits. Even in this case, as Vioxx has been pulled from the market, it has generated billions of dollars in sales for Merck. In fact, in 2003 alone, Vioxx generated a reported $2.5 billion in sales, or about 11% of the company's revenue.

This is a high-priced drug that has been heavily hyped and marketed. It has been pushed through advertising to consumers and an additional $500 million in marketing efforts directly to doctors and clinics. As a result, doctors tended to perceive this drug as being a high-tech new drug that was better than the old, proven anti-inflammatory drugs, and thus they prescribed it in huge numbers.

And yet, even as this drug has now been found to cause heart disease, strokes, and other cardiovascular disorders, and now that it is being pulled from the market, the drug company Merck has made out quite well. It was able to get a drug approved without adequate testing, it was able to market that drug through direct-to-consumer advertising (and spending hundreds of millions of dollars on influencing doctors), and it was able to generate literally billions of dollars in sales from that drug over a period of several years, even while the drug was potentially harming or even killing patients due to its fatal side effects. That spells a big "win" for Merck. Mission accomplished!

Today, in response, Merck said that it's pulling the drug and it will reimburse people for whatever unused drugs they haven't taken yet. Is that the best that Merck can do? Are pharmaceutical companies not going to be held responsible for the widespread harm they cause to customers who take their drugs? Why is it that Merck thinks it can get a drug approved, market it heavily, and generate billions of dollars in profits, and then walk away from the table as soon as people start dying from it, or in this case, experiencing increased risk of cardiovascular disease?

Why isn't Merck helping to pay for heart tests for some of the patients who have been taking this drug? Why isn't Merck offering not only a refund on the unused drugs, but a refund on all the drugs that people have taken over the years?

Keep in mind, that's the kind of thing that the FDA has required nutritional supplement manufacturers to do when they didn't like what the company was marketing to the public. In one case, the FDA went after a company called Lane Labs that sold an anti-cancer nutraceutical, and in a court proceeding, the FDA managed to get the judge to order the company to not only refund holders of existing inventory, but to pay back all the people who had ever purchased the drug from the very first day it was available.

Why isn't Merck being held to the same standard by the FDA? Shouldn't Merck be mailing refund checks to all the patients and doctors and health insurance companies who have paid for this drug over the last few years? If this pharmaceutical company has generated profits hand over fist from selling a drug that turns out to actually be harmful to people's health, shouldn't it be financially held responsible for doing so? Well, apparently not, but you can bet there will be some class-action lawsuits here that will attempt to bring Merck to justice.

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About the author:Mike Adams (aka the "Health Ranger") is a best selling author (#1 best selling science book on Amazon.com) and a globally recognized scientific researcher in clean foods. He serves as the founding editor of NaturalNews.com and the lab science director of an internationally accredited (ISO 17025) analytical laboratory known as CWC Labs. There, he was awarded a Certificate of Excellence for achieving extremely high accuracy in the analysis of toxic elements in unknown water samples using ICP-MS instrumentation. Adams is also highly proficient in running liquid chromatography, ion chromatography and mass spectrometry time-of-flight analytical instrumentation.

Adams is a person of color whose ancestors include Africans and Native American Indians. He's also of Native American heritage, which he credits as inspiring his "Health Ranger" passion for protecting life and nature against the destruction caused by chemicals, heavy metals and other forms of pollution.

Adams is the founder and publisher of the open source science journal Natural Science Journal, the author of numerous peer-reviewed science papers published by the journal, and the author of the world's first book that published ICP-MS heavy metals analysis results for foods, dietary supplements, pet food, spices and fast food. The book is entitled Food Forensics and is published by BenBella Books.

In his laboratory research, Adams has made numerous food safety breakthroughs such as revealing rice protein products imported from Asia to be contaminated with toxic heavy metals like lead, cadmium and tungsten. Adams was the first food science researcher to document high levels of tungsten in superfoods. He also discovered over 11 ppm lead in imported mangosteen powder, and led an industry-wide voluntary agreement to limit heavy metals in rice protein products.

In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Through the non-profit CWC, Adams also launched Nutrition Rescue, a program that donates essential vitamins to people in need. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.

With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource featuring over 10 million scientific studies.

Adams is well known for his incredibly popular consumer activism video blowing the lid on fake blueberries used throughout the food supply. He has also exposed "strange fibers" found in Chicken McNuggets, fake academic credentials of so-called health "gurus," dangerous "detox" products imported as battery acid and sold for oral consumption, fake acai berry scams, the California raw milk raids, the vaccine research fraud revealed by industry whistleblowers and many other topics.

Adams has also helped defend the rights of home gardeners and protect the medical freedom rights of parents. Adams is widely recognized to have made a remarkable global impact on issues like GMOs, vaccines, nutrition therapies, human consciousness.

In addition to his activism, Adams is an accomplished musician who has released over a dozen popular songs covering a variety of activism topics.

Click here to read a more detailed bio on Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, at HealthRanger.com.

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