Merck catches more flak over painkiller


IT LOOKS like a regular clinical trial, but a group of doctors is alleging that the design of a study involving controversial painkiller Vioxx was heavily influenced by the maker’s marketing staff. The study, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2003, found that Vioxx, made by Merck, caused fewer side effects than another painkiller. Merck subsequently withdrew Vioxx because of safety concerns. In the court cases that followed, the firm released its internal memos. After analysing the memos, doctors led by Kevin Hill of McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts,
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