The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Merck Told Sales Staff to Downplay Vioxx Risks

by Dave Reynolds

May 6, 2005 – A Congressional panel released documents Thursday showing that within months of the prescription painkiller Vioxx hitting the market, its manufacturer instructed sales representatives to downplay research pointing to potentially dangerous health risks.

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Representative Henry A. Waxman (D-California) presented to the House Committee on Government Reform an analysis of more than 20,000 documents from Merck & Company. Waxman said the records show that corporate executives ordered the 3,000-member sales force to avoid discussions with doctors about a study showing the drug was associated with a substantially higher risk of heart attacks than Naproxin, the main ingredient in Aleve, a competing drug.

Instead, sales representatives were instructed to point doctors to other data and to refer doctors' questions to the company in writing.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Dave Reynolds is a contributing journalist.

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