Merck Used Ghostwriters to Draft Rosy Vioxx Studies

Company downplayed risks in medical articles on drug found to be a killer
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2008 7:51 PM CDT
Vioxx is arranged on a counting tray in this 2004 file photo.    (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer, File)
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(Newser) – Merck used its own ghostwriters to draft articles minimizing risks of its drug Vioxx, then found medical researchers to lend their names to the research, the Wall Street Journal reports. Merck, which pulled the painkiller from shelves four years ago over heart-attack risks, rejects the claims as "misleading." They appear in tomorrow's edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“It almost calls into question all legitimate research that’s been conducted by the pharmaceutical industry with the academic physician,” the lead researcher of the JAMA study tells the New York Times. He says the ghostwriting practice is widespread in the industry, and a companion editorial in JAMA calls for immediate changes.