The top two officers at legacy Schering-Plough -- Carrie Cox and Fred Hassan -- had deep involvement in the commercial launch of Bextra and Celebrex (while still at Pharmacia; prior to the sale to Pfizer) -- and all of New Merck has a deep footprint in Vioxx's sordid history.
Per the AP newswires, tonight:
. . . .Federal prosecutors announced Thursday that they have filed a health care fraud charge against a doctor accused of faking research for a dozen years in published studies that suggested after-surgery benefits from painkillers including Vioxx and Celebrex. . . .
Court documents indicate that Dr. Scott Reuben, an anesthesiologist, has agreed to plead guilty in exchange for prosecutors recommending a more lenient sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and forfeiture of assets worth at least $50,000 that Reuben received for the research.
Prosecutors allege the former chief of acute pain at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield sought and received research grants from pharmaceutical companies but never performed the studies. He fabricated patient data and submitted information to anesthesiology journals that unwittingly published it, court documents allege. . . .
Celebrex is still on the market. . . .
Indeed. Pretty disturbing -- and one wonders whether this will be only the tip of a larger, yet submerged, iceberg. Is more of the FDA approval data suspect, for any other blockbusters (or former blockbusters) in Merck's stable? We'll see.