There’s more bad news for Vioxx and its manufacturer Merck & Co.
The drugmaker's researchers privately raised concerns back in 2000 that Vioxx might increase cardiovascular side effects. Those concerns were being raised even as Merck was downplaying a study that highlighted the pain relief medication's potential heart attack risk.
That's according to internal company documents mistakenly provided by Merck to plantiff lawyers as during the evidence-gathering process in one of the hundreds of Vioxx lawsuits.
Agressive Sales Tactics
This news comes on top of recently released confidential company documents, that detail the aggressive tactics of a sales army of 3,000 who pushed the multibillion-dollar arthritis drug before it was pulled from shelves last fall due to increased risks of heart attack and stroke.
The documents address everything from instructions on how long to shake a physician’s hand, to more important matters like directing reps to never mention the heart risks. Representatives were offered monetary incentives to meet sales goals and Merck gave the campaigns code names like “Project Offense” in an attempt to increase sales, even as regulators were about to add more warnings to the drug’s label.
Lawmakers released the confidential documents at a hearing of the House Government Reform Committee. The details of these sales tactics have outraged representatives of congress. One Democratic congressman said it was not good salesmanship but disinformation to deflect safety concerns.