From the "never saw this one coming" department, an investigation paid for by Merck and it's board has abvoled the company of wrongdoing in developing and marketing the painkiller Vioxx. The law firm that conducted this "investigation" used much of the same information used against Merck.
You can read the report by going here.
The first interesting aspect of this report is the author: "Report of The Honorable John S. Martin, Jr." even though Mr. Martin left the bench in 2003 to practice law with a law firm. It can't be that Merck is trying to use the prestige of a former judge to influence opinion is it?
The cost of the report is $21 milion. 53,000 billable hours were spent on this report, which means that another 5,000 hours were cut. If you do the math, the firm hired to issue this paper spent 300 man hours on each page. It took only seven weeks to write each page. Who says lawyers aren't getting rich from the Vioxx litigation?
The law firm that employs Mr. Martin interviewed 115 people for this paper. The link above does not, alas, have attached Exhibit 2 which lists witnesses.
Thanks to the WSJ Blog for the posting of the report and for the commentary on it. Go here.
Congress didn't give Merck a free pass. At hearings on the drug and the industry, committee members were highly critical of both the drug maker for its use of such highly misleading information and of the FDA for allowing Merck's business practices.
The end result of this ... ahem ... "report" is that it won't make more than one day's worth of news.