Essay about Vioxx Recall

952 Words Aug 27th, 2015 4 Pages
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Benedictine University


The following text examines the recall of the drug Vioxx and the pharmaceutical industry’s responsibilities when it comes to ethical testing and distribution of consumer medicines. The role of the Federal Drug Administration is examined. The text also contemplates the actions that Merck, the maker of Vioxx, took during the product’s recall and how we can improve the current drug testing system to protect consumers.

Merck, one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world, created Vioxx, a once best-selling painkiller. In 2004, the company learned that its drug increased the risk of stroke and heart attack. After a few different studies, Merck finally
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Merck did not do a good enough job testing Vioxx before its release to the public and company executives didn’t take the results of the studies seriously. It seems that Merck took every available option it could to get its product to as many consumers as possible even though there were doubts about its safety. Merck hired hundreds of lobbyists in the nation’s capital and made countless political donations to promote its political agenda on many different issues such as speeding up the approval of new drugs from 27 months in 1993 to just 14 in 2001 (Lawrence & Weber, 2014, p.495). Merck was also able to take advantage of direct-to-consumer advertising. The FDA allowed drug companies to advertise directly to consumers in 1997 and the company spent millions on television and magazine advertising. This allowed consumers to learn about the newly available drugs and put pressure on doctors to offer them to their patients even though their safety has not always been determined. Finally, after multiple safety warnings, Merck recalled Vioxx in 2004 after finding out that Vioxx patients were more than twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those that used a placebo. Merck announced that they are voluntarily withdrawing Vioxx because of new data from a three year clinical study. What should or could Merck have done differently,

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