succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Cleveland News (sort of...)

Less than a week after his videotaped lambasting of Merck was played in a Houston federal courthouse, Dr. Eric Topol, a prominent cardiologist, has lost his title as chief academic officer of the Cleveland Clinic's medical college.

Of course, they're denying that the one has anything to do with the other. I meant to research this better at the time, but frankly, if any number of the things that came out during Merck's first trial in Texas, which they lost, turn out to be accurate, then they're pretty screwed. The New England Journal of Medicine has stated that "...Merck improperly withheld information from an article that was published in ... November 2000," and that they "...undercounted the number of heart attacks suffered by patients in a study of Vioxx to play down the drug's heart risks." So far it sounds like there are a number of internal documents floating around from scientists involved in the studies worried about the cardiac risks who were pressured to minimize their concerns. And people wonder why I don't want to work for a pharmaceutical company....

And yes, in the grand scheme of things, it's a shame, because Merck does a lot of really good things too, not the least of which is its dedication to the elimination of river blindness (they've pledged to donate Mectizan until the disease is completely eliminated). Nevertheless, I can't personally justify going to work for a company when I have no real way of knowing/controlling whether I'm working on a Mectizan-type project or a Vioxx-type project.


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