Merck and Co. Inc.

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Merck & Co., Inc. describes itself as "a global research-driven pharmaceutical company dedicated to putting patients first." [1] "Putting patients first" has so far "led to more than 27,000 heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths" [2] through their arthritis treatment Vioxx between its approval in 1999 and its withdrawal from the market in 2004.

Contents

The company

Merck & Co., Inc. should not be confused with Merck KGaA. While Merck KGaA is allegedly the world's oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company and based in Germany, the U.S. company Merck & Co. became independent after the First World War. [3]

Merck & Co is the former U.S. subsidiary of the Merck Group (under the umbrella of Merck KGaA) and became independent in 1917.[1]

The UK subsidiary of Merck & Co is called Merck Sharp & Dohme Limited (MSD) which has two sites in the UK. Its headquarters and pharmaceutical research and development laboratories are located in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire and its manufacturing is located at Cramlington in Northumberland. [2]

Sanofi Pasteur MSD is a 50/50 joint venture between Merck and Sanofi Aventis.[3]

Corporate social responsibility at Merck

From the Merck website: "At Merck, our business is discovering, developing and delivering novel medicines and vaccines that can make a difference in people's lives. But our mission also entails something more. As a Company, we seek to maintain high ethical standards and a culture that values honesty, integrity and transparency in all that we do. Company decisions are driven by what is right for patients. And we are committed to our employees, to the environment in which we live and to the communities we serve worldwide." [4]

This statement has to be seen in contrast with Merck's Vioxx scandal and their range of products, especially the absence of any Malaria treatment. "Malaria kills an estimated 2.5 million people a year, the majority of these African children aged below five years old. While western pharmaceutical companies have invested approximately £ 11bn over the past decade in "lifestyle drugs" for impotence, weight loss, baldness, smoking and ageing, the product development budget for the Tropical Disease Research (TDR) programme, a joint effort from the World Health Organisation (WHO), World Bank, and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), averages £ 6m per year. [..] It would be impossible for the drugs companies to make a profit in African and Asian countries where the average wage can be as little as £ 1 per day and, in Africa, economic growth is slowing by 1.3% per year as a direct result of malaria alone." (The Herald (Glasgow), August 20, 2004)

Products

Merck provides different lists of products for patients and healthcare professionals. That for professionals includes medicines and a vaccine that are partly not approved yet.

Patients get information on:

  • Rotateq, a rotavirus vaccine for children [5]
  • Crixivan, an antiretroviral agent for HIV patients, recommended to be taken in combination with other antiretroviral agents [6]
  • Emend, a medication to suppress nausea and vomiting as side effects of chemotherapy [7]
  • Fosamax, an Osteoporosis medication [8]
  • Fosamax Plus D, with added vitamin D [9]
  • Maxalt, a painkiller for migraine patients [10]
  • Propecia, treatment for male hair loss [11]
  • Proscar, a medication for prostate treatment [12]
  • Singulair, an asthma and allergy treatment [13]
  • Vioxx, a painkiller for arthritis patients. The link [14] provided by Merck only shows Merck's hideous attempt to justify the Vioxx scandal (see below)
  • Zocor, a cholesterol medication [15]

The Vioxx scandal

From the Guardian, March 16, 2006: "Thousands of patients are now suing manufacturers Merck after the company was forced to withdraw the painkiller, widely used by arthritis sufferers, in 2004. Data from its trials had emerged showing that it increased the risks of heart attack. David Graham of the Food and Drug Administration, the US drug regulator, said it could have caused up to 140,000 cases of heart disease in the US since it was licensed in 1999."

Merck keeps claiming they voluntarily withdrew Vioxx from the market. [16]

"Insider emails published by the Wall Street Journal reveal that Merck, the maker of Vioxx, was fully aware of the health risks of its COX-2 inhibitor anti-inflammatory drug as early as March, 2000. As is apparent from the published emails, there was a concerted effort to bury the negative evidence and even distort the drug trials by excluding heart patients from the Vioxx studies so that, "...the rate of cardiovascular problems for Vioxx patients would not be evident." " [17]

Management committee

[18]

Public Relations, Lobbying and Business Intelligence Firms

Merck appears as a client with Rabin Strategic Partners[4] (A full-service consultany, public relations and communications agency) alongside Johnson & Johnson. However the nature of the link between the two companies is not divulged.

Merck & Co is listed as a client of business intelligence firm Business Insights[5] and The Gorlin Group[6]

E Merck and Merck Sharp and Dohme are listed as clients of Innovex[7]

Merck Farma y Química is listed as a client of Inforpress[8]

Merck Selbstmedikation (Merck self-medication) is listed as a client of FischerAppelt Kommunikation[9]

Merck & Co is also listed as a member of the American Benefits Council[10] and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations[11] in 2008.

Merck Sharp and Dohme is reported to be a principle funder and Business Forum member for the Social Market Foundation in 2005/06[12]

Policy Exchange funding

Merck donated £17,500 to Policy Exchange in May 2009 to support research into drugs pricing.[13]

Patient Groups

Merck Ltd is reported to support the following patient groups[14]...

External links

References

  1. Merck Pharmaceuticals UK Welcome to Merck Accessed 13th December 2007
  2. MSD UK home page Accessed 13th December 2007
  3. Sanofi Pasteur MSD Annual Report and Accounts 2006
  4. Rabin Strategic Partners Our Clients Accessed 2nd January 2008
  5. Business Insights Patient Power: The shift towards more informed, more powerful consumers of drugs Accessed 5th February 2008
  6. The Gorlin Group Clients Accessed 20th March 2008
  7. Innovex Our Customers Accessed 12th February 2008
  8. Public Relations Organisation International Inforpress accessed 13th February 2008
  9. FischerAppelt Kommunikation Current & former clients Accessed 14th February 2008
  10. American Benefits Council Memberships Accessed 26th February 2008
  11. International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations Members Accessed 11th March 2008
  12. Social Market Foundation Annual Report 2005/06 Accessed 6th March 2008
  13. MERCK, Corporate Social Responsibility, Q1/2 2009 Grants & Donations to Institutions and payments to Patient Organizations United Kingdom.
  14. Merck Patient Groups Accessed 12th February 2008
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