SCIENTISTS were allegedly recruited by a pharmaceutical giant to put their names on research done by the drug company to promote the safety of its anti-arthritis drug Vioxx.
The Federal Court has heard that Merck & Co "prepared and gathered" doctors and academics to write the company's own research on Vioxx, which was then published in prestigious medical journals as independent studies.
The drug company also allegedly produced an entire journal -- called The Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine -- and passed it off as an independent peer review publication. These claims were put by lawyers acting for Graeme Peterson, who is suing Merck & Co and its Australian subsidiary Merck, Sharpe and Dohme for compensation.
The 58-year-old -- along with more than 1000 other Australians -- claim Vioxx caused their heart attack or stroke.
The drug was launched in 1999 and at its height of popularity was used by 80 million people worldwide because it did not cause stomach problems, as did traditional anti-inflammatory drugs. It was voluntarily withdrawn from sale in 2004 after concerns were raised that it caused heart attacks and strokes and a clinical trial testing these potential side-effects was aborted for safety reasons.
Merck last year settled thousands of lawsuits in the US over the effects of Vioxx for $US4.85billion ($7.14 billion) but made no admission of guilt.
Counsel acting for Mr Peterson, Julian Burnside, told the court this week the drug company sought out and recruited scientists, academics and doctors to put their name to Merck's own research.
He said medical journal expert George Jelinek would testify that the articles were designed to "reassure the medical profession" about the safety of Vioxx.
The trial, before judge Chris Jessup, continues.
Question: How many New Zealanders died as a result of the coxibs?