In a revealing article in todays Boston Globe the editor of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine discusses how he wishes he had been more aggressive in challenging the findings of the VIGOR study published almost five years ago, and now at the heart of charges that Merck withheld information on 3 additional cardiac deaths.
Dr. Gregory Curfman outlines his thoughts on what occurred five years ago, how the information was presented, and his wish that he had at the very least offered two hypotheses, one concluding what Merck contended, and another that Vioxx was creating the cardiac events.
For those of you have not been following this closely, the VIGOR study at the heart of this essentially concluded that the increase in cardiac events were a result of the protective effective of Naproxen, as opposed to elevated risk by Vioxx. This is the heart, in very short hand terms, of the Merck defense, so the addition of other deaths to the calculations of the death rate were a crucial point.
As mentioned before, I just don't see how Merck survives this. The deluge of articles yesterday and this weekend on what they did, and the reaction of the legal, medical and scientific community has been swift and brutal. This, in my opinion is Mercks "Dan Rather" moment, where they are caught pushing a false or misleading story, and the collapse of their credibility thanks to the blog community is going to be total and complete.