Waxman summarized techniques Merck used to try to minimize the cardiovascular adverse effects of Vioxx in its marketing efforts to physicians. Techniques included:
- Avoiding discussion of a specific study, the VIGOR study, which showed that Vioxx increased cardiovascular events
- Distributing outdated data from weaker studies that had not shown cardiovascular adverse effects, on a "Cardiovascular Card"
- Identifying speakers for "educational events" who would be "favorable" to Merck products
- Using "subliminal selling techniques" beyond intellectual persuasion.
My comment is that this suggests that the pharmaceutical industry ought to inject big doses of ethics and transparency into its marketing. But a quick scan of Health Care Renewal would also suggest that many large health care organizations, not just pharmaceutical manufacturers, could use similar injections of ethics and transparency into their business practices.