The public was given a glimpse into the world of drug marketing as lawmakers released confidential Merck documents that detail how a sales army pushed Vioxx before it was pulled.
Don't bring up the heart risks, warns a Feb. 9, 2001, memo from a Merck employee regarding Vioxx and the pitch to doctors.
And when doctors asked about those risks, the Merck sales reps were to refer to a "cardiovascular card" with data suggesting that Vioxx could be safer than other anti-inflammatory drugs. Yet the card, also released Thursday, doesn't include the very study that raised the first warning signal regarding Vioxx.
The documents were released at a hearing of the House Government Reform Committee. Take a look at the materials by going here.
Interestingly enough, during the hearing FDA drug chief Dr. Steven Galson told lawmakers that the agency is taking steps to improve awareness by the public and doctors of potential drug risks as soon as they arise. My comment: Really now? I urge you to read the two blog entries below- in both instances, after FDA- alleged "misleading" ads had run, it took more than SIX months in each instance for the FDA to slap the drug maker on the wrist. "As soon as they arise" Dr. Galson?
Dr. Galson said that what was happening with Vioxx wasn't clear-cut until the research was completed last summer. He admitte that it may have taken too long to put a new warning label on the drug.<>