Docs Say Merck Placed Their Names on Ghostwritten Vioxx Articles

Last Updated May 12, 2009 11:15 AM EDT

Not only did Merck produce a series of fake medical journals to promote Vioxx in Australia, but the articles were ghostwritten by doctors who deny they worked on them, according to Heartwire.

Dr. Marvin Konstam said he didn't know too much about a 2001 journal article on Vioxx, despite the fact that he was listed as the article's lead author, Heartwire says. The paper concluded that the now-withdrawn drug wasn't that risky in terms of cardiovascular events.

In denying that he was the lead author, Konstam has left himself open to accusations that his name was placed on a ghostwritten paper. The other author of the paper, Dr. George Jelinek, says:
... Konstam was in fact a guest author on the paper, which had originally been written in-house by Merck...
Jelinek adds that a broadly similar paper was presented by three Merck employees to a conference with no involvement from Kronstam a few months before the paper came out. Here's Merck's take on events.

Another doc, Dr. James Bertouch told a federal court in Australia that he was surprised to see his name listed on the editorial board of a journal created by Merck. As soon as he saw it, he told the editor that he wished to resign.

Merck, via medical publisher Elsevier, put out not one but six editions of the faux "Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine," according to The Scientist.

It's not all bad news for Merck -- the company won two rulings in the U.S. on Vioxx cases. In Ontario, Merck won an extension to appeal a ruling, and in California a judge denied plaintiffs class-action status in a raft of cases against Merck. --

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