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Merck pulls Vioxx...

...and Majikthise has one of the most interesting comments about it.

. . . The real question is why Merck acted so precipitously? Vioxx was one of their best selling drugs. I think it's because they're afraid of lawsuits. Merck has know about the CV risk of Vioxx for years. I wonder why these particular data finally convinced them to pull the drug.

Yes, I wonder what would have happened if folks like Eliot Spitzer hadn't publicized the drug industry's cover-ups of trials with negative results by filing lawsuits. I wonder where the FDA has been all this time. And I wonder whether this would have happened if the Republicans had succeeded with their "tort reform" plans to insulate corporations from liability.

Corporations aren't evil, but they are organized solely for maximizing profit. Without effective regulation, and without the public's ability to hold them liable for destructive behavior, they will cause a great deal of harm.

EDIT: For some more interesting comments, see Chris Rangel:

So we lose an overly marketed drug that was no more effective and much more expensive than other NSAIDs and had few if any advantages (once a day dosing if that is worth the price). Big deal. But now we are likely to see act II of this drama entitled: "Class Action attack of the Trial Lawyers". Even though the relative increase in cardiovascular events was 50%, the absolute increase was tiny, well under 1% for the study population of 8,000. However, this doesn't matter to greedy trial lawyers and their equally greedy and paranoid clients.

Comments

While I take Rangel's comments to heart, it somehow seems to me that if someone produces a drug that has no greater efficacy and yet increases cardiovascular problems, for even a small number of people, they should have to bear the costs of their decision.

Yeah, there's greed there -- but it's on both sides, and I don't see why a patient who has been hurt by a drug should say, "well, this greedy pharmaceutical company hurt me, so I'll just suck it up."

Test?