Lessons from Vioxx - Restoring faith in pharmaceutical industry

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Drug development and pharmaceutical industry

The pharmaceutical industry, academia and government agencies need to work together to restore faith in drug development, say doctors in this weeks' BMJ.

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They argue that the recent litigation over the drug Vioxx, produced by Merck and Co. Inc., has highlighted the failings of the current system, which can be open to abuse.

Vioxx (rofecoxib) was introduced in 1999 as an effective, safer alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) for the treatment of pain associated with osteoarthritis. It was subsequently found that the drug increased the risk of cardiovascular disease (CV) and withdrawn from the worldwide market. Merck now faces legal claims from nearly 30,000 people taking Vioxx who experienced a CV event while taking the drug.

In the course of the litigation and in dealings with medical journals it was revealed that Merck had obscured critical data on the drug's toxicity, given a biased presentation of Vioxx research and had used ghost writers to author papers on Vioxx

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