When I was Merck's CEO, a Friday telephone call from our head of research started a chain of events that put to test the conviction in our core beliefs. He told me that our long-term safety study of Vioxx was showing an increased risk of cardiovascular events compared to placebo, and the trial was being discontinued. We agreed that whatever course of action we decided to take would be based on what we believed the science said about what was in the best interests of patients.
After analyzing the data further and consulting with outside experts, the Merck scientists recommended that we voluntarily withdraw the drug. They said that it might be possible to go to the FDA, add warnings to the label, and keep Vioxx on the market, but they believed that the most responsible course of action in the interests of the patient was to voluntarily withdraw the drug. I, along with the rest of my management team and the board, agreed with the recommendation, and the drug was withdrawn.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Vioxx contd. - a CEO recalls! The Vioxx Recall Tested Our Leadership - Raymond V. Gilmartin - HBS Faculty - Harvard Business Review