Originally published August 17 2006
A nation asleep: the Vioxx deception put into perspective
According to estimates by the FDA's senior drug safety researcher, Dr. David Graham, the drug Vioxx caused over 140,000 heart attacks in patients, likely killing more than 60,000 Americans who took the drug.
Yes the drug remains perfectly legal and continues to be prescribed to patients right now.
Consider the following:
If a defective automobile resulted in the death of 60,000 Americans, the manufacturer would apologize, issue mandatory recalls, and try to amend the damage done by settling lawsuits and repairing its vehicles.
If an herb resulted in the death of 60,000 Americans, the FDA would outlaw the herb, confiscate shipments, raid vitamin shops and criminalize the selling of the herb. The press would headline scary stories about "the dangers of herbal medicine."
If a sports drink were found to contain a deadly chemical that killed 60,000 people, grocery stores would sweep the product from their shelves, national news would declare it a national tragedy, and consumers would be in an uproar.
But when the prescription drug Vioxx kills 60,000 people:
- The FDA reinstates the drug as "safe" and allows it to continue being sold to consumers.
- Its manufacturer denounces critics, refuses to apologize for the deaths and vows to fight the 16,000 pending lawsuits, mostly by blaming patients for their own death.
- Doctors continue to prescribe Vioxx, apparently giving no consideration to its safety risks.
- The Dept. of Justice launches no investigation into criminal conduct by Merck, a company that clearly hid evidence about the dangers of its drug. The FTC launches no investigation into anti-trade practices. The FDA goes out of its way to protect Merck by silencing its own drug safety scientists who sound the alarm.
- The mainstream media, which subsists in part on Big Pharma advertising money, reports no national tragedy, offers no real investigative journalism and no recognition of the scale and scope of the Vioxx disaster.
It's as if 60,000 Americans were sent to a war, returned home in body bags, and nobody noticed.
Ask yourself: What's wrong with this picture?
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