March 2005 Vioxx Article Says "Yes", Meaning That Only Merck Could Make An "Informed Decision" About The Risks For Heart Attacks And Strokes
From researching the Salon.com site, it seems that Dr. Burton is a neurologist and novelist who used to answer health questions for Salon.com's now-defunct Health section.
Here is an excerpt from the Salon.com March 2005 Vioxx article by Dr. Robert Burton:
. . . Two months after Vioxx was recalled, Dr. Richard Horton, editor in chief of the British medical journal Lancet, wrote: "With Vioxx, Merck and the F.D.A. acted out of ruthless, short-sighted, and irresponsible self-interest."
But the medical literature related to Vioxx suggests an even more onerous possibility, which is that Merck intentionally designed its studies to avoid discovering the truth about the potential C.V. risks of Vioxx. I have not been privy to the company's private staff meetings and internal documents. But it has been my experience that undertaking any major research study involves extensive consultation between experts in all pertinent fields, including pharmacologists, epidemiologists, statisticians and business managers. Given the enormous intellectual investment in the design of a drug like Vioxx, it is reasonable to presume that all potential outcomes were seriously entertained. I must presume that Merck would factor in what might happen to Vioxx sales with each study result.
And so it's hard to escape the sadly cynical conclusion that the company consciously crafted its tests to avoid exposing the risks of Vioxx to the public.
Dr. Burton's provocative Vioxx article is especially significant, now, as we observe the continuing battle between The New England Journal of Medicine and Merck concerning the medical journal's recent correction to data from the "APPROVe" Vioxx study.
I encourage you to take some time to visit the PharmaGossip site and read the entire March 2005 Vioxx article by Dr. Burton.
(Posted by: Tom Lamb)