People Are More Important Than Profit

Written by Dr. Cole Sommers

For those readers who have read my story about how the New York State Office of Professional Discipline attempted to revoke my license to practice dentistry, these two articles below will be of interest to you.

I had always thought that these type of stories were only the stuff of movies. You know, movies like Three Days of the Condor with Robert Redford.  Fiction, right?  Unfortunately, no.

And when you live it first hand, the reality of how things really are is a rude awakening.

Corporations doing whatever it takes to preserve and maximize profits regardless of who may be hurt. Remember the Ford Pinto?

But surely we can trust out government to “do the right thing.” 

Ah, no.

What has always bothered me was how any individual, knowing full well the their actions will have a negative effect on a percentage of people and in some cases even cause death, can disregard all of that and place money as their first priority.

What is the mindset of these people? Do they have families and children? What do they tell their children about their job?

Being an American used to stand strength with honor, integrity, empathy, and fair play.  Now it seems it is money and power.

Court hears how drug giant Merck tried to “neutralise” and “discredit” doctors critical of Vioxx

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 06 April 2009)

BMJ 2009;338:b1432

Ray Moynihan

The drug company Merck drew up a list of influential doctors and researchers it wanted to “neutralise” and “discredit,” as part of its marketing of the arthritis drug Vioxx (rofecoxib), according to evidence heard by an Australian court this week.

Details of the plans to “neutralise” doctors surfaced during a class action against Merck on behalf of hundreds of Australians who had heart attacks or strokes after taking the drug, which was withdrawn in 2004 after concerns about safety.

Julian Burnside QC, acting for the plaintiffs, read extracts from company emails sent between Merck staff that discussed a “list of ‘problem’ physicians that we must, at a minimum, neutralise.”

The list dates from 1999 when questions were first raised about the safety of rofecoxib, and there was intense competition within the market …

And This……

March 11, 2015

Huffpost Canada Politics

Merck Has Some Explaining To Do Over Its MMR Vaccine Claims

Posted: 09/25/2014 5:29 pm EDT Updated: 11/27/2014 5:59 am EST

Merck, the pharmaceutical giant, is facing a slew of controversies over its Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine following numerous allegations of wrongdoing from different parties in the medical field, including two former Merck scientists-turned-whistleblowers. A third whistleblower, this one a scientist at the Centers for Disease Control, also promises to bring Merck grief following his confession of misconduct involving the same MMR vaccine.

The controversies will find Merck defending itself and its vaccine in at least two federal court cases after a U.S. District judge earlier this month threw out Merck’s attempts at dismissal. Merck now faces federal charges of fraud from the whistleblowers, a vaccine competitor and doctors in New Jersey and New York. Merck could also need to defend itself in Congress: The staff of representative Bill Posey (R-Fla) — a longstanding critic of the CDC interested in an alleged link between vaccines and autism — is now reviewing some 1,000 documents that the CDC whistleblower turned over to them.

The first court case, United States v. Merck & Co., stems from claims by two former Merck scientists that Merck “fraudulently misled the government and omitted, concealed, and adulterated material information regarding the efficacy of its mumps vaccine in violation of the FCA [False Claims Act].”

According to the whistleblowers’ court documents, Merck’s misconduct was far-ranging: It “failed to disclose that its mumps vaccine was not as effective as Merck represented, (ii) used improper testing techniques, (iii) manipulated testing methodology, (iv) abandoned undesirable test results, (v) falsified test data, (vi) failed to adequately investigate and report the diminished efficacy of its mumps vaccine, (vii) falsely verified that each manufacturing lot of mumps vaccine would be as effective as identified in the labeling, (viii) falsely certified the accuracy of applications filed with the FDA, (ix) falsely certified compliance with the terms of the CDC purchase contract, (x) engaged in the fraud and concealment describe herein for the purpose of illegally monopolizing the U.S. market for mumps vaccine, (xi) mislabeled, misbranded, and falsely certified its mumps vaccine, and (xii) engaged in the other acts described herein to conceal the diminished efficacy of the vaccine the government was purchasing.”

These fraudulent activities, say the whistleblowers, were designed to produce test results that would meet the FDA’s requirement that the mumps vaccine was 95 per cent effective. To the whistleblowers’ delight, the judge dismissed Merck’s objections to the case proceeding, finding the whistleblowers had plausible grounds on all of the claims lodged against Merck.

If the whistleblowers win, it would represent more than a moral victory (they repeatedly tried to stop Merck while still in its employ). Under the False Claims Act, the whistleblowers would receive a share — likely 25 per cent to 30 per cent — of the amount the government recovers. Previous settlements involving extensive fraud by pharmaceutical companies under the False Claims Act have run into the hundreds of millions of dollars, and in some cases such as against GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer, into the billions.

The second court case, Chatom Primary Care v. Merck & Co. relies on the same whistleblower evidence. This class action suit claims damages because Merck had fraudulently monopolized the mumps market. Doctors and medical practices in the suit would be able to obtain compensation for having been sold an overpriced monopolized product, and a defective one to boot, in that the mumps vaccine wasn’t effective (indeed, the suit alleged that Merck expected outbreaks to occur and, as predicted, they did — mumps epidemics occurred in 2006 in a highly vaccinated population and again in 2009-2010).

“Plaintiffs have argued sufficient facts to sustain a claim for proximate causation, detailing the significant barriers that other companies would face to enter the mumps vaccine market,” the court ruled.

The third whistleblower — a senior CDC scientist named William Thompson — only indirectly blew the whistle on Merck. He more blew it on himself and colleagues at the CDC who participated in a 2004 study involving the MMR vaccine. Here, the allegations involve a cover-up of data pointing to high rates of autism in African-American boys after they were vaccinated with MMR. In what could be high-profile House hearings before Congressman Posey’s Science Committee — hearings made all the more explosive given the introduction of race into the mix — Merck could find itself under unprecedented scrutiny. The CDC still stands by its study although Frank DeStefano, the CDC’s Director of Immunization Safety and a co-author in the CDC study, also stated that he plans to review his notes with an eye to reanalyzing the data.

Some say all publicity is good. In Merck’s case, regardless of the ultimate merits, the publicity will be all bad.

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