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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Poor misunderstood pharma

The silence from the corporate world and their minions. But then again. So what's new about that when they get caught with their fingers in the cookie jar.

The admission by the New England Journal of Medicine that it messed up in not thoroughly vetting a study showing Merck's Vioxx to be the greatest thing since sliced bread is the lesser of two sins. The fact the company "tweaked" the data to ignore messy little complications like the fact it posed a danger to people is the far greater sin.

What's instructive in this and other accounts is the relative silence from the company (enmeshed in a third lawsuit over Vioxx deaths) and the industry behemoth PhARMA. The company's written statement says only three additional heart attacks "did not materially change any of the conclusions in the article." I guess there is little you can say about falsifying data that stands up to scrutiny.

As for the industry, which is quick to insist the massive amounts in charges customers in the US is designed to encourage continued research, the best we can seem to find is an unnamed executive telling the Globe that protocols targeted only at industry-funded research is "unfair."

I'd say this action is more reflective of the industry's hardball tactics. No wonder corporate America has a PR problem.

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