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Originally published June 10 2009

Shut Up or Be Discredited: Merck Threatens Doctors Critical of Their Drugs

by Joanne Waldron

(NaturalNews) According to an article in The Australian by Milanda Rout, the folks at Merck are threatening the livelihoods of doctors who dare to have negative opinions about its drugs. Apparently, this fact was revealed in a very interesting e-mail that surfaced in a federal courtroom in Melbourne during a class action suit against Merck & Co and its Australian subsidiary, Merck, Sharpe and Dohme. Over a thousand Australians complained that they experienced heart attacks or strokes from taking Merck's Vioxx drug. Recall that Vioxx was withdrawn from the market in the U.S., where Merck has already paid out billions of dollars to Vioxx users who were harmed by the drug (while making no admission of guilt).

Merck to "Seek and Destroy" Critical Docs

Shockingly, the article by Rout states that Merck employees created a list of doctors and other researchers who needed to be either "neutralized" or "discredited" due to the fact that they were critical of the Vioxx drug. The methods used to do this included threatening to cut research funding and attempting to block academic appointments. The telltale e-mail, according to Rout, stated: "We may need to seek them [critics of Vioxx] out and destroy them where they live." This is pretty scary language, especially considering most people are under the impression that pharmaceutical companies are comprised of benevolent people whose mission is to save lives.

Nurses and Pharmacists Used to Recruit Vioxx Patients

If this isn't bad enough, another tidbit that came out at the trial was that Merck actually resorted to hiring nurses to scour medical records of patients looking for those who weren't on Vioxx but who could be, according to an article by Jim Edwards in BNET Pharma. The article also reports that pharmacists were given free copies of the Merck Manual in exchange for recommending Vioxx to patients that were taking paramecetol. The article also notes that Merck created a fake medical journal to promote its drugs which is currently available here.

Faking and Ghostwriting Studies

However, this news shouldn't come as any surprise to those who are familiar with Merck`s history. Recently, medical journals were told to retract 21 studies that promoted the benefits of drugs like Vioxx due to the fact that Dr. Scott Reuben faked the data used in the studies, according to an article by Parker Waichman Alonso LLP. The article also reports that it was revealed in the course of Vioxx injury lawsuits in the U.S. that Merck had previously used its employees and publishing companies to write up Vioxx study manuscripts and then later hired medical experts to claim that they were the authors of the studies, a shady practice known within the industry as ghostwriting.

Now Merck Pushing HPV Vaccine

Currently, Merck is still hawking its Gardasil vaccine to young girls (in spite of all of the adverse effects that have been reported) and also wants it to be used on older women and even young boys. In light of all of the Vioxx news, how many people will want to roll up their sleeves? Parents really must think seriously about whether they should trust the health of their children to companies that have a history of putting profits ahead of people.


About the author

Joanne Waldron is a computer scientist with a passion for writing and sharing health-related news and information with others. She hosts the Naked Wellness: The Gentle Health Revolution forum, which is devoted to achieving radiant health, well-being, and longevity.

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