Look very closely at the unaltered images at right (I left them small, and didn't reconstitute them in Photoshop, so that you could see the way each appeared on the drugmakers' websites at the time).
Now consider my erstwhile anonymous commenter's assertion, quoted below. Of course, no one is ever going to verify this on the record. And of course, Mr. Hassan and Ms. Cox will deny that they ever even suspected anything of these alleged contractors -- but it is a fascinating bit of intertwining, just the same. Consider:
. . . .Anonymous said...
I'm not sure if you've made mention in the past, Condor, but to bring some (Legacy) Merck color to the Celebrex fold, it is used as a lesson on information security. The story goes, and is retold countless times by senior management, that the third party contractors working on the marketing campaign for Vioxx were not careful with protecting the plans prior to launch and the packaging model was stolen and used for Celebrex.
Ever notice that the Celebrex logo is Merck's teal blue? Or the flair of the 'x' that resembles the reworked Vioxx 'x'? This IP theft allegedly delayed the Vioxx launch to accommodate the packaging changes that were suddenly needed when our marketing work showed up on Celebrex's packaging.
May 1, 2012 12:51 PM. . . .
UPDATED | More, from comments below:
. . . Anonymous said...
I assure you, Condor, this is the textbook example given in (Legacy) Merck information security training for dealing with third party contractors. To also clarify, the story is told as an external marketing firm did not properly protect the materials it had prepared for Merck. How or who, specifically, boosted the imagery is not part of the lesson. Did Pharmacia's team get it presented to them by another team at the third party marketing agency, unsuspecting that it was Merck's? Did another party, say a printer, courier or external contractor of the third party, boost it from the marketing agency and use it for its own benefit? No such conclusions are part of the training but all potential scenarios are discussed to expose the risks using third parties without proper information protection can bring.
May 8, 2012 3:26 PM. . . .
[UPDATED: To be clear -- I do believe it, Anon., but without on the record sources, I feel it only fair to present it as a rumor at this point -- especially since it at least nominally links Fred Hassan's time at Pharmacia, to his later deeds, in dealing directly with Merck, about the delay of the publication of the Vytorin study called ENHANCE. You'll recall that at the time of launch of Celebrex, a similar set of events unfolded, as a not-so-favorable Celebrex study was also only partially published/delayed -- allegedly by Hassan/Cox. Then all of Pharmacia was sold by Hassan and Cox -- to Pfizer.]
It may or may not be true -- but on its face, it seems possible -- the launch time-lines for the two drugs are close enough to make it plausible.
What do YOU think? Let me know in comments. It would be yet another piece of the tantalizing enigma that makes up Fred Hassan's legacy in pharma, if confirmed. Tomorrow, Peter Kellogg is at a dog and pony show at the Deutsche Bank Health Care Conference in Boston, at 8 AM EDT -- maybe someone clould ask him if he ever heard this one, echoing in the halls of Whitehouse Station. Hmmmm.