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Drug Company Merck Drew Up Doctor "Hit List" 281

Posted by kdawson
from the i'll-have-your-job-young-man dept.
Philip K Dickhead sends in a piece from the Australian media, a couple of weeks old, that hasn't seen much discussion here. In a class-action lawsuit in Australia against Merck for its Vioxx anti-arthritis drug, information has come out that the company developed a "hit list" of doctors who had expressed anything but enthusiasm for the drug. Vioxx was withdrawn from the market in 2004 because it causes heart attacks and strokes. Merck settled a class action in the US for $4.85 billion but did not admit guilt. "An international drug company made a hit list of doctors who had to be 'neutralized' or discredited because they criticized the anti-arthritis drug the pharmaceutical giant produced. Staff at US company Merck & Co. emailed each other about the list of doctors — mainly researchers and academics — who had been negative about the drug Vioxx or Merck and a recommended course of action. The email, which came out in the Federal Court in Melbourne yesterday as part of a class action against the drug company, included the words 'neutralize,' 'neutralized,' or 'discredit' against some of the doctors' names. It is also alleged the company used intimidation tactics against critical researchers, including dropping hints it would stop funding to institutions and claims it interfered with academic appointments. 'We may need to seek them out and destroy them where they live,' a Merck employee wrote, according to an email excerpt read to the court by Julian Burnside QC, acting for the plaintiff."
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Drug Company Merck Drew Up Doctor "Hit List"

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 25, 2009 @02:26PM (#27714747)

    We've all seen the classic beer commercial. Some guy is bored and alone. Then he cracks open a beer and suddenly this amazing party materializes out of nowhere and bunch of adoring super-models surround the guy like he's the hottest guy on the planet.

    Most of us recognize that this is a marketing fantasy. Sure, beer is often served at parties and there are often some attractive women at parties but the actual events depicted in such commercials are solidly in the realm of fantasy. More fundamentally, most of us recognize that the reason we are being shown the beer commercial is not because the beer company is devoted to improving our lives but instead because the CEO wants to increase profits so he can get his incentive bonus so he can buy his third mistress that second luxury vacation home she's been asking for. The CEO probably does see himself as a decent guy but, when you strip away the pretense, he's certainly not doing what he does out of pure altruism.

    We've also all seen the classical antidepressant commercial. Some guy "hurts everywhere" and "everyone". Then he pops a couple cute little pills and "everywhere" and "everyone" magically stops hurting - whatever problems he may have had with his health or his career or his relationships or his dog are magically cured by those cute little pills.

    Do most of us recognize that this is a marketing fantasy? Probably not. Sure, antidepressants are prescribed to people with depression and people do recover from depression. But the idea that a couple pills will solve every single problem you have in your life is solidly in the realm of fantasy. More fundamentally, the reason we are shown the antidepressant commercial is not because the pharmaceutical company is devoted to improving our lives but instead because the CEO wants to increase profits so he can get his incentive bonus so he can buy his third mistress that second luxury vacation home she's been asking for. The CEO probably does see himself as a decent guy but, when you strip away the pretense, he's certainly not doing what he does out of pure altruism.

    So, getting back to the topic in this Slashdot article, people should look at such articles and wake up to the fact that pharmaceutical companies are not motivated by altruism - and that, furthermore, pharmaceutical will make whatever claims about their drugs that they think they can legally get away with. When a pharmaceutical company makes a "scientific" claim about one of their drugs, you can be sure that the claim has the bare minimum of actual scientific basis allowed by law.

    • by UncleTogie (1004853) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @02:51PM (#27714967) Homepage Journal

      We've all seen the classic beer commercial. Some guy is bored and alone. Then he cracks open a beer and suddenly this amazing party materializes out of nowhere and bunch of adoring super-models surround the guy like he's the hottest guy on the planet.

      Spookily enough, this is how they sold the doctors on the meds to begin with.

      I worked as IT guy at a medical office for a number of years, and noticed that I'd never seen an ugly pharmaceutical rep. The reps sent to the doc's office were all pretty enough to drive most guys googoo, and I noticed even Doc was hanging on her every word. Later, I asked the office manager if that was common and actually WORKED. "Every time I'VE seen," she replied...

      Since then, I've always wondered how many drugs were prescribed solely because of hooters.

      • Obviously we need more gay doctors.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MrMarket (983874)

          Obviously we need more gay doctors.

          Why? To create more jobs for more gay PhRMA reps?

      • by future assassin (639396) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @03:16PM (#27715157) Homepage

        My girlfriends family doctor is one of those doctors. She pushes anything that is pro pharma and has TONS of free samples for crazy amount of different drugs. When my girlfriend mentioned to her that I was looking to find a family doctor who was pro cannabis (Trying to get a license for my herniated disk) she got all up on my girlfriend how cannabis is bad and all that... but shes more then willing to give out some free pills for "beta' testing. Always wondered how much shes paid by the pharma companies.

        Another thing I don't understand is how anyone could take a pill that spends more then half of the tv commercial talking about how many side effects there are and that rare occasional deaths can occur. WTF?

        • by tsa (15680) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @04:31PM (#27715837) Homepage

          My brother's GF was a representative for a pharma company for a few years. She is quite good-looking, which helps in achieving your targets of course. She always had a trunk full of expensive gifts like coffee machines and other stuff to give to doctors to promote medicines. When I told her that in normal Dutch this is called bribery she was mad at me and told her the doctors actually have to do a lot to get those things. They have to give the company data on how the patients react to the drugs, something that the secretary can get out of her computer with a few keystrokes. Hard work indeed, for the doctor. Those doctors were also often invited to a tropical paradise to see presentations about new medicines. Of course they didn't have to pay for those trips.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Ceiynt (993620)
          I fired my old family doctor of about 10 years because I started to see he was nothing but a shill for the drug compaines. He'd spend less then 5 minutes in the room with you, give you a hand full of samples of the latest, greatest whatever. I brought in a list of drugs that Wal-Mart sells for $4 and a list of what my insurence covers, none of his samples were on the list, so he wouldn't prescribe those. Lo and behold, the samples are the ones that are still patent protected, and cost $500 for a weeks worth
        • She pushes anything that is pro pharma and has TONS of free samples for crazy amount of different drugs.

          I heard from a couple doctors that I know that some of the hospitals and health care organizations around here, including the clinic that I go to, have started to forbid doctors from taking samples from drug companies (I can't find any public statement in a quick Google search, so this is still third-hand). Maybe there's still hope.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bitt3n (941736)

          Another thing I don't understand is how anyone could take a pill that spends more then half of the tv commercial talking about how many side effects there are and that rare occasional deaths can occur. WTF?

          Sleeper Effect [wikipedia.org]

      • All Ex Cheerleaders (Score:5, Interesting)

        by copponex (13876) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @04:01PM (#27715623) Homepage

        A friend of mine was a rep for a larger company. She was an ex college cheerleader and they picked her up straight out of college, and with bonuses, she was making close to 80k in her second year. This didn't include all the expenses her company paid for - car, housing, gas, expense accounts for taking clients to dinner. And according to her, she was not unique in her history as a cheerleader, or her pay grade.

        I saw the analytical software she had to gauge her performance against others in her region. It was mind-boggling how much data she had, how many prescriptions had been written by which doctor, doctors who hadn't purchased her brands yet, growth rates... and that seemed to be just the tip of the iceberg. But nowhere, nowhere did it tell her if patients had recovered or not, or if any of them had passed away. If they were dead, it was just the loss of one prescription.

        She always talked about competing for growth rates, and the bonuses that it included. Basically, doctors who sold a lot of drugs were invited to gatherings in the Caribbean, expenses paid of course, where all of the top sales reps would also be enjoying the conference as well.

        The whole thing was really sickening. I talked to one doctor that said he felt pressured to prescribe pills, not necessarily by the drug companies, but by his patients. They come in, malnourished, overweight, smoking, and not getting any exercise, and ask for help with their cholesterol. What he should tell them is that they need to stop smoking, prescribe an hour of exercise a day, and a new diet. Instead, he writes them a script, is one step closer to getting a free vacation, and his patients get to continue abusing themselves guilt free.

        This is one of the many reasons we need to move to a system where the incentive is to keep people healthy instead of keeping them sick. As the baby boomers continue to age, this dogmatic adherence to the "free market" could quite possibly bankrupt us.

        • by bendodge (998616) <bendodge@b[ ]rog ... m ['sgp' in gap]> on Saturday April 25, 2009 @05:08PM (#27716049) Homepage Journal

          Uh, it's not a free market. It's run by insurance and pharmaceutical companies. People have a remarkable way of managing their money better than other people's. If people were paying their own money for drugs instead of an employer's insurance or tax-funded nets, they'd make a remarkably larger effort to stay healthy and spend less on treatments.

          See hospitals in India, Singapore, and Thailand staffed by American doctors that actually compete for patients from around the world. They're booming because they're mostly free of bureaucracy and are very open about their mortality, infection, and error rates. That's how healthcare should work.

          • by copponex (13876) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @05:38PM (#27716273) Homepage

            I know. That's why the "free" is in quotes. Whenever you hear someone talk about how the market should be free, they usually mean, free to allow powerful interests engage in anti-competitive practices. That's how taxpayers end up subsidizing private providers of Medicare, because they can't compete with government provided services of comparable quality. It isn't "fair" that they aren't allowed to make money, so we should keep the market "free."

            Interestingly, it looks like India's health care system, a mix of private and public initiatives, is doing very poorly compared to the universal system in Singapore. India's healthcare system is not providing good service for their population, so I don't know why you consider it evidence of the "free" market working it's magic. According to Wikipedia, "Most public health facilities lack efficiency, are understaffed and have poorly maintained or outdated medical equipment." It's no secret that rich people can get good health care, it's just that most western people are very rich when they're shopping in India.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Arancaytar (966377)

            If people were paying their own money for drugs instead of an employer's insurance or tax-funded nets, they'd make a remarkably larger effort to stay healthy and spend less on treatments.

            While some aspects of industrial disease are caused by overindulgence in luxury, it doesn't follow that healthy living is always cheaper than unhealthy living. You will not be able to pressure the poor into living healthier by making them pay for their own healthcare. All you would do is kill them.

        • by sa1lnr (669048)

          "She always talked about competing for growth rates, and the bonuses that it included."

          Is it just me, or does this sound awfully familiar?

      • The one and only time I went to a speed dating event, I got the list of women's ages (if they admitted it), their occupation, etc. I saw "pharmaceutical sales" on the list and before I ever got there, I told the friend I was going with, "I'll be able to pick out the pharma rep - she'll be the most attractive woman there"... and I was right.

        There were other attractive women there, but the one that stood out from the crowd was the pharma rep.
    • by RichardJenkins (1362463) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @03:06PM (#27715087)

      We've also all seen the classical antidepressant commercial. Some guy "hurts everywhere" and "everyone". Then he pops a couple cute little pills and "everywhere" and "everyone" magically stops hurting - whatever problems he may have had with his health or his career or his relationships or his dog are magically cured by those cute little pills.

      What? You guys really get ads like that in the States? I can't remember ever seeing an ad for prescription drugs - the very notion of advertising anti-depressants directly to consumers (particularly over the boob tube) is insane!

      • by Compholio (770966)

        We've also all seen the classical antidepressant commercial. Some guy "hurts everywhere" and "everyone". Then he pops a couple cute little pills and "everywhere" and "everyone" magically stops hurting - whatever problems he may have had with his health or his career or his relationships or his dog are magically cured by those cute little pills.

        What? You guys really get ads like that in the States? I can't remember ever seeing an ad for prescription drugs - the very notion of advertising anti-depressants d

      • The US, and until recently, NZ, were the only countries in the world where you are allowed to advertise a prescription medication. It, of course, leads to the absurdity of "Ask your doctor about {drug}" style ads, not "Discuss with your doctor the symptoms of your ailment", of course not. So people go into their doctors, "So I saw this ad, and I matched a couple of the things they mentioned, "feeling tired, run down"... "so can you write me a script for {drug}".

        Mind blowing. Unbridled capitalism at its finest.

      • Insane for whom? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by xant (99438)

        It's certainly not insane for the drug companies. You can put pressure directly on your doctor to get the drug that the teevee says will cure you. If he's ethical and doesn't comply (when the treatment isn't appropriate), well, there's plenty of other doctors. They'll comply out of apathy, or because it has a direct payoff in perks from drug companies.

        It's a totally rational strategy for drug companies.

    • by Tweenk (1274968)

      We've also all seen the classical antidepressant commercial.

      I haven't. In my country, it is illegal to advertise prescription-only drugs in the TV, radio, newspapers and on outdoor billboards (not sure about the Internet). I think it should be this way everywhere, for the reasons mentioned in your post.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        (Anon because I've modded.) In Canada ads for prescription drugs are allowed, but only if they don't mention what the drug is for. This leads to subtle innuendo, like Viagra ads with telephone poles and fence posts everywhere. Antidepressent commercials invariably show happy people having picnics and pushing their kids on a swing for 20 seconds, followed by the list of side effects and the phrase "Ask your doctor about today!"
        • by DirtyCanuck (1529753) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @05:01PM (#27716013)

          Unless you are of course, watching an American channel being broadcast in Canada. Which makes up a large portion of stations we have available.

          Signs you are watching American Channel:

          1. Drug propaganda public service announcements.
          2. Anti Abortion commercials
          3. Pharmaceutical commercials, with death as a side effect (laugh every time).
          4. Some sort of community college commercial with some overly average guy yelling at you to go to school.
          5. Really, really bad local commercials (Halloween Costume Warehouse).
          6. Really dark and even disturbing commercials that turn out to be some politician bashing another (often not realizing until end of commercial)
          7. Do you have BAD CREDIT, well we have got a number for you....
          8. Fast Food
          9. Walmart

    • by nicklott (533496)

      We've also all seen the classical antidepressant commercial

      Actually, only Americans and New Zealanders have seen that (in the first world). They are the only two OECD countries that allow direct marketing of prescription drugs to consumers.

    • by jollyreaper (513215) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @05:38PM (#27716269)

      We've also all seen the classical antidepressant commercial. Some guy "hurts everywhere" and "everyone". Then he pops a couple cute little pills and "everywhere" and "everyone" magically stops hurting - whatever problems he may have had with his health or his career or his relationships or his dog are magically cured by those cute little pills.

      Never felt more betrayed than by the cold and flu ads. They show someone miserable at night but he pops the meds and the next morning he doesn't even look like he's been sick! I know damn well the super model beer commercial fantasy is more likely to happen than that!

      I remember puking my guts out in the early morning and feeling shocked that the pharmaceutical companies would lie to us so brazenly in the commercials. Then I realized just how sick I must be to find this surprising.

    • Re.the Summary above. There is no 'Federal' court in Melbourne. We have the Supreme Court. Paradoxically, a higher court is in Canberra, the High Court of Australia. If people want to go higher than that, there is the Privy Council in England. Haven't heard of a case going there in many years though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      With all of the marketing for drugs out there, I'm starting to feel left out that I don't take any.

      Also, I'm wondering if all of the marketing for drugs is really necessary. I mean, if a drug does it's job particularly well, it will be prescribed by physicians and people will pay for it. It falls into a different category than the beer commercial right after it - I can go out and readily buy beer on a whim and it's totally legal. If I wanted to do the same thing with prescription drugs, it would be more cos

  • by erroneus (253617) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @02:26PM (#27714749) Homepage

    We see this over and over again. We saw it in HP where leadership was so arrogant that it thought it should be able to do the things it did overstepping boundaries. Critics must be silenced. This isn't about competition in the sense of making better, safer, more effective things. This is about competition of life versus death quite literally. They see the world as an opponent that must be controlled, misdirected or otherwise "neutralized." In short, they are sociopathic and should be legally marked and deemed as such.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 25, 2009 @02:45PM (#27714917)

      www.google.com/#q=corporate+personhood

      www.reclaimdemocracy.org/personhood/

      We believe that corporations are not persons and possess only the privileges we willfully grant them. Granting corporations the status of legal "persons" effectively rewrites the Constitution to serve corporate interests as though they were human interests. Ultimately, the doctrine of granting constitutional rights to corporations gives a thing illegitimate privilege and power that undermines our freedom and authority as citizens. While corporations are setting the agenda on issues in our Congress and courts, We the People are not; for we can never speak as loudly with our own voices as corporations can with the unlimited amplification of money.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Also, basic reading into corporate personhood reveal that SCOTUS never even directly ruled on this idea. It's been accepted as fact ever since a clerk wrote a footnote into a ruling that said "The supreme court sees corporations as persons" or the like.

        Someday, hopefully someone with a bankbook can work on challenging this and ACTUALLY getting it to the supreme court... when that court isn't full of corporate shills like Alito. I'm sure this "Strict Consitutionalist" won't remember that consitution writer

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ChrisMaple (607946)
        Railing about the legal properties of corporations is attacking a straw man. The problem is that illegal activities caused by an individual in a large organization can be deflected from both the organization and the guilty individual. It is this defect in the law and the judges who misunderstand the law that need to be fixed, not the shorthand that in some respects a corporation is like a person.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Most people living today don't know the basic fact that corporations are "legal fictions" that require the government to exist. Corporations to many these days are some magical category that somehow exist on their own, and until we have a corporate rule type situation that the cyberpunk authors like to write about then we corporations really do require a government to issue them a charter.

      I don't know if we have laws that make it hard to revoke a corporate charter, but if we do legislators can write laws t

    • Over the years, working with many companies, I've actually found managers at small businesses to be significantly more fast and loose with the law than at big businesses. Lawyers tend to go after deep pockets, so big businesses have HUGE infrastructures set up to prevent lawsuits from impacting them. For example, a lot of small company managers will make blatant racist/homophobic decisions and never suffer the consequences- at a big company, 18 internal policemen would descend on them, and they would be f

  • by gcnaddict (841664) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @02:27PM (#27714755)
    If you're a doctor, don't say anything about any drug. If you praise a drug, you'll look like a shill. If you slam a drug, you'll... well, probably get killed.

    Just stay out of it, even if it means you make $100,000 less every year. Getting involved is a lose/lose.
  • "We may need to seek them out and destroy them where they live."

    Tony Soprano must own this drug company in Australia.

    Or kinda of Bush-Cheney-ish.

    "Fight them there so we don't have to fight them here"

    • Sounds more like Scientology to me. These doctors criticised the drug company, and are to be neutralized or discredited. "Destroyed" would be a good word. Would you say the drug company considers them "Fair Game"? *wink wink*

  • I hope ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @02:42PM (#27714907)

    ... that Australian law allows them to ream Merck out for this kind of behavior. Specifically, attacking another's professional reputation. In some places (States in the USA) its considered a violation of the professional code of ethics that can cause one to lose a license to practise certain professions (engineering, for example). But in the US, its rare to see any penalties imposed. Only in cases where actual financial damages can be proven (in spite of the fact that licensing laws impose no such requirement).

    As medical professionals rely heavily on reputation for their livelihood, it would be nice to see this taken seriously. Interesting note: The only group that seems to be successful in having such regulations enforced in the US are lawyers (as in having web sites that rate lawyers taken down).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I am really not that surprised. There is a great book out there written by a former New England Journal of Medicine editor-in-chief, Marcia Angell, called, The Truth About Drug Companies. (amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Truth-About-Drug-Companies-Deceive/dp/0375760946/ref=ed_oe_p). The book touches on the fact that drug companies do these kinds of things to Dr.s who disagree with them.

    Kind of off topic, but, among other things the book points out is that they're justification for high R&D costs is ab

  • by guyminuslife (1349809) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @02:53PM (#27715005)

    My mother was taking Vioxx regularly when the whole scandal broke. She immediately went to the pharmacist to get as much of the stuff as she could before it got taken off the market. The other drugs didn't really do it for her. Arthritis sucks, and as a dentist, it has a huge impact on your ability to do your job.

    Yeah, it might kill you, but on the other hand, it's about quality of life.

    • by V50 (248015) * on Saturday April 25, 2009 @03:23PM (#27715237) Journal

      Yep, my uncle was on Vioxx, and it was about the only thing that seemed to work for him. When the whole "Vioxx will kill you" thing broke, it was pretty devastating for him, not because he was concerned with having a heart attack or stroke, but because now the only thing that was working for him in dealing with his arthritis was unavailable.

      I don't think he outright said it, but I really got the impression that, given a choice, he'd gladly take the risks because his arthritis was so bad, and the Vioxx worked very well.

      • by bill_kress (99356) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @03:49PM (#27715497)

        People have a really bizarre inability to really accept things outside their experience.

        For children, when they start driving, they think they are unstoppable. The drive fast or drink and drive simply because they have not personally seen the consequences.

        After a while, you start seeing how much you can get hurt if you jump from a roof into a pool and you start thinking twice, but until then nothing can stop you.

        Instead of hiding smoking or pretending it was OK, my mom tried to quit repeatedly, complained about how pathetic and weak she was, how they controlled her and how she couldn't stop spending money on them. She stopped for a year once, but went back. I think I can remember at least 6 serious efforts to stop, but in the end it killed her.

        If you could really grok that before you picked up your first cigarette, you would be physically incapable of smoking it.

        We like to think that we make our own decisions and we do so with the information we have in a way that benefits us, but really we are manipulated easily. FOX news knows how to pull the strings of a type of person to manipulate their feelings, chemical addictions can completely and deeply change how you feel about many things, etc.

        The point is, these people say it's a quality of life issue simply because they aren't able to comprehend the fact that they could die tomorrow.

        If someone were able to actually say with certainty that "if you keep taking that pill, you will die in 2 weeks, otherwise you will live for 15 years", they would stop. From there it's just a matter of odds.

        Hell, what if they said "If you keep taking that pill, you will die in 10 years, otherwise you will die in 15"? Well, right now some might actually say "I'll keep taking it", speaking for that person in 9 3/4 years who may answer VERY differently-- again a human inability to logically analyze the situation and come to an honest conclusion.

        • by Kohath (38547)

          This is a bunch of BS. When there is no "right" answer, many different conclusions are logical and reasonable. Life is full of situations with no good answers.

          You really think "live with constant pain 24x7" vs. "take a chance on a heart attack or stroke" is a choice with a clear-cut, correct answer? It is not.

          Moreover, people who think they can find the "right" choice for every possible situation are dangerous and destructive.

    • by Kokuyo (549451)

      Which is a good point. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

      This is about a company trying to shut up doctors who didn't like their product. There is nothing wrong with deciding to take the risk, but first you ought to KNOW the risk.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 25, 2009 @03:37PM (#27715371)

      The sad thing is that Vioxx isn't that dangerous. The problem is that Merck's behavior is very dangerous.

      If the company hadn't decided to lie about it and fight tooth and nail to and discredit everyone, it could easily be on the market today. Just not to really old people, smokers, or other people with high risk factors for heart attacks. And the doctor would hopefully let you know that the pain in your chest might not be heartburn, increasing the probability you'd realize you're having a heart attack and call 911 before you keel over.

      • by Kohath (38547)

        I think you misunderstand the current state of drug regulation and class-action lawsuits.

        Silicone gel breast implants caused none of the conditions they were blamed for. But there were huge lawsuits and they were taken off the market. Billions of dollars changed hands at the direction of the legal system. It doesn't matter that they harmed no one. The damage is already done and the companies (shareholders, employees, and other individuals) that made them aren't going to get their money back.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      There exists a great deal of genetic polymorphism with regard to drug efficacy and side-effects. Individuals have differing capabilites for metabolizing a drug, which leads to some people being able to tolerate higher doses than others.

      In fear of lawsuits, pharma companies are quick to withdraw drugs from the market if serious side-effects surface. This has happened with a number of efficient drugs, such as rimonabant [wikipedia.org], an appetite suppressant that was pulled from the market in Europe for increased suicide r

  • Name... (Score:3, Funny)

    by jez9999 (618189) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @02:54PM (#27715017) Homepage Journal

    Philip K Dickhead sends in a piece from the Australian media, a couple of weeks old, that hasn't seen much discussion here.

    I'm not sure I'd like to discuss anything submitted by 'Philip K Dickhead'.

  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @02:57PM (#27715037) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone else besides me see the common practice of coming to a settlement with no admission that the corporation did anything wrong is a really, really bad thing. I don't know if the fact that this is tacked on to every major settlement has to do with the fact that these corporations are massive concentrations of power and money that the legal systems aren't designed to deal with or if it's just greedy plaintiffs or a combination of both. If we could get companies to actually admit guilt in some of these cases, would it head off crap like this anyways?
  • by ColePEET (861091) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @03:29PM (#27715297)
    What about that? Who would have that authority at Merck? The CEO? The hit-list didn't just appear, it was a plan put into action. Who put it into action? Some one made a decision. The world needs to track down and execute the people who make these decisions.
  • by moxley (895517) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @04:36PM (#27715875)

    This sort of thing reminds me of the way the company in "Michael Clayton" behaves, (great film BTW).

    I wiah that sort of thing was a fantasy and that it could be said that such things are exaggerations and never happen - but when it come to millions or billions of dollars at stake these multinational companies are sometimes willing to do extremely unethical things, including murder - we certainly have seen cases of attempts to cover up negligence where numerous people have been killed as a result of faulty products.

    Even if Merck didn't actually have anybody killed here, and even if they claim that isn't what they meant by "neutralize," - destroying someone's life and credibility because they are trying to tell the world the truth about what their research has shown is just about as bad.

    As corporations and governments are becoming more intertwined I expect we'll see more of this.

    It seems like sociopaths tend to make it far in corporate society - something about being able to do what it takes to rise to that level in the cutthroat world of business seems to fit the the sociopathic personality.

    Any company that gets caught doing this sort of thing, even if it's found out after the fact should be destroyed - it's assets should be divided properly among shareholders and employees who are clean of any taint from such a scandal....

    • "Any company that gets caught doing this sort of thing, even if it's found out after the fact should be destroyed"

      Never mind that, in the case of Merck and similar sized companies, dismantling it ends up being akin to smashing a fly with a sledge hammer; gross over-kill that ends up punishing thousands of innocent employees, employees of Merck suppliers, their families, and creditors.

      The real answer is to punish only those who broke laws. That rarely, if ever, includes every single employee right down to t

  • Wow. They drew up a 'hit list' and wound up putting themselves in the cross hairs instead.

    Sounds like a 'black list', which is very shady, but the fact that they stated that they needed to use some kind of action against the doctors clearly turns it into a 'hit list'.

    I guess you could say that Merck was caught with it's pants down..... by doctors! ZING!

  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @05:49PM (#27716357)

    'We may need to seek them out and destroy them where they live,' a Merck employee wrote.

    He must have been a Scientologist because that sounds almost exactly like what CoS directs and encourages its members to do when faced with external criticism ala their "fair game" policies (which they claim to have repealed, but in practice still regularly employ to aggrivate, defame, and harass their critics). The Corporation [wikipedia.org] was right, this is the behavior of a psychopath.

  • Well good on Merck. I wouldn't want to see some greasy, Hippcratic-oath-swearing quacks get in the way of the market!

  • by kilodelta (843627) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @09:05PM (#27717581) Homepage
    There are tons of drugs out there where pharma has suppressed negative research. Recall if you will the drug phenylpropanolamine aka Dimettap. Worked great on me, but I'm male. It had a nasty habit of killing women who were in that age bracket where they were most fecund. How many years did it take for that drug to get yanked off the market?
  • by srobert (4099) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @03:40PM (#27723021)

    This just can't be true. We'd have heard it reported on CBS, NBC, or Fox if it were. Right?

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