Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK) withdrew Vioxx from the worldwide market on September 30, 2004. Their own studies showed that it caused heart attacks and strokes. Nearly 80,000 or more folks had heart attacks and strokes while taking Vioxx. Merck, a company who’s slogan is “Merck Puts Patients First”, did not accept personal responsibiliy, but in trial after trial, sometimes successfully, shifted the blame from themselves to their patients. Finally, after losing several key trials, and faced with investigations from state and federal authorities, Merck in November, 2007 after three years of denying responsibility, said they will pay $4.85 billion to Vioxx victims. Of course, they added the obligatory language that “we do not admit responsibility for these heart attacks or strokes”. This is the company that at one time was the most respected drug company. Now, they are ranked 10th of the 12 major companies in terms of reputation. All brought about by not putting patient’s first.
The latest failure to put patients first came with Merck’s announcement that they have recalled 1.2 million doses of childhood vaccines because of sterilization problems in one of their Pennsylvania plants. If drug companies can’t provide a sterile place to make childhood vaccines someone should be prosecuted criminally. The lastest Merck fiasco involves the vaccines for Hib, given for meningitis and pneumonia, and one other vaccine. They are administered to children at 2, 4, 6, 15 and 16 months old. Concerned parents should call their pediatricians and call their Congresspersons to ask that Merck be investigated for once again not putting patients first. More information is available from the Centers for Disease Control.
For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Drugs, Medical Devices and Implants.