With what can only be called poor timing drug maker Merck's CEO Johnston S. Phillips said Vioxx was no more dangerous then swimming with a sting ray.
Vioxx is at the heart of Merck's problems. Court documents, filed in Camden New Jersey today, show the company new long before the 300th heart attack that Vioxx was a problem.
The directions to the sales force was to divert doctor's away from the facts. These fact, somewhat blurred by the New England Journal of Medicine, raised serious concerns about increase in fatal and non fatal myocardial infarction (heart attacks) in those taking their drug.
"We had a plan", an anonymous source is quoted. "The doctor needed to be distracted with a loud sound and something free. "
The Merck sales guide suggested two loud quick hand clamps, a look of sudden realization, and a free trip offer to Orlando, Florida for the doctor.
"If they [the doctor] said heart attack--two loud claps and we said , "how about going to Sea World and swim with some sting rays?" That was our plan, a second Merck salesperson, told us off the record. For the most part it worked. The Doc is getting ready to ask a question and you throw out the claps, the look, and the sting ray thing--it is brilliant really they forgot any potentially compelling question.
"They [the doctors] could never get back on track. Even if they wanted to. The whole sting ray thing would confuse them and before you know it your out the door and Dr I'm-going-to-Sea-world-free is writing vioxx prescriptions."
At today's press conference Merck's CEO, when asked why equate a drug's safety profile with a marine mammal, responded, " I have looked at the data they are good fish, they float around and never bother anyone."
When CEO Phillips was advised of recent news events surrounding the death of Australian Steve Irwin he was obviously flustered. In what can only be considered falling back to his salesman training CEO phillips clapped his hands twice and offered this reporter a trip to sea world to swim with....
This column is dedicated to the pure spirit that is Steve Irwin. Steve's life stands in direct opposition to those who care for nothing and have no spirit.
Obviously, on a distant universal plane Steve was needed to tame a monster--crikey.