Monday, July 7, 2014

Is "Sanity Making A Comeback?" Forbes' Matt Herper Says Merck "Regrets" Bullying Italian Doctor

I'll -- as ever -- have more later tonight (after the usual day gig is put to bed). UPDATED 07/08/2014 | 4 PM EDT: I neglected to mention that (in his own updated material) Ed Silverman, an old friend of this blog (for going on seven years now), had the "Merck regrets. . ." lines several hours prior to Matt's. My apologies! He's ever vigilant, that Ed. And a true gent!

But my buddy Matt Herper got an apology (of sorts) out of the mouthpieces, up in the puzzle palace, at Whitehouse Station -- as just printed in Forbes:

. . . .Merck says that it “regrets” using legal threats to push a leading Italian researcher to muffle his public critiques of one of the company’s cholesterol drugs.

Merck spokesman Steve Cragle writes:

"Merck is committed to the open and transparent exchange of scientific information. We believe this exchange should take place in medical meetings and peer-reviewed scientific publications. We believe this to be an isolated incident in Italy and regret how it was handled by our company. Merck has not taken any legal action in connection with this situation. . . ."

In a phone conversation, Cragle confirmed that the physician could post his arguments about the drug, ezetimibe, on his web site again without fear of legal reprisal coming from Merck. “We wouldn’t take any action against him," Cragle said. Would the company take any internal action to keep this situation from repeating itself? "We’re certainly reviewing the situation," Cragle said. . . .

I applaud the quite-egregiously-belated retraction -- and wonder whether it would have ever been offered -- had The British Medical Journal NOT surfaced this odious brand of MSD Italy strong-arming. And what of Merck's loss (in court) in the 2004 Vioxx® debacle -- in Spain that time, but along much the same lines? Gosh -- don't these folks pass on the learning/battle scar stories? They ought to. Truly. Being able to learn from past mistakes -- that's a hallmark of intelligent leadership. We need to see more of that in evidence, here -- especially in the EU.

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