Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Did a Merck Exec "lean" on a professor?

From various sources, including

<>Harvard University professor Lee Simon got a call from a Merck executive that to say the least was not expeced. Louis M. Sherwood, then a senior vice president at Merck & Co. Inc., maker of Vioxx. Based in West Point, Montgomery County, Sherwood challenged Simon's view - later proved correct - that Vioxx could cause more strokes than a rival drug.

Sherwood didn't stop there. He said "he would hurt my career if I continued to lecture," Simon recalled. "I was astonished."

Sherwood's warning, said Simon and others allegedly also threatened, went beyond anything they had experienced before from drug companies trying to woo researchers and physicians to endorse and prescribe their products.

On Oct. 4, 2000, a Merck memo listed a professor's presentations and background, beginning with the line: "Perceived as an advocate for [another company] ." The memo also said Merck, in reaction, barred the person from Merck-sponsored conferences in the western United States, leading to conference cancellations.

My comment:

This is not a plot from a movie, and no Russell Crowe has not been signed to play the part of Dr. Lee Simon. It is however, not new. If you have not done so, and you are investigating unsafe drug cases you may want to read "Dispensing with the Truth" by Alicia Mundy. The book chronicles the tale of Fen Phen, and recounts how one respected doctor was likewise the subject of veiled threats. You can find it on Amazon here.

True intimidation? Career ending threats? Is this what the public can expect from big Pharma? It will be interesting to see if these comments come out during any deposition or trial.