Sunday, May 10, 2009

Great moments in damage control

It seems that Merck has been having problems with the Vioxx brand after some doctors became critical. A lawsuit in Australia has revealed some very damaging emails:
The first fun thing to emerge in the Australian case is email documentation showing staff at Merck made a "hit list" of doctors who were critical of the company, or of the drug. This list contained words such as "neutralise", "neutralised" and "discredit" next to the names of various doctors.

"We may need to seek them out and destroy them where they live," said one email, from a Merck employee. Staff are also alleged to have used other tactics, such as trying to interfere with academic appointments, and dropping hints about how funding to institutions might dry up. Institutions might think about whether they wish to receive money from a company like that in future. Worse still, is the revelation that Merck paid the publisher Elsevier to produce a publication.

At some point corporations should entertain the possibility that their critics have a point and fix the problem.

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