Eric Topol,chief of cardiology at Cleveland Clinic has little good to say in his deposition about Merck's actions in the Vioxx matter and in the efforts of Merck's executives to silence his criticism.Importantly, for the current trial,Topol's deposition stated that Vioxx could increase risk of heart attacks soon after starting the drug.How soon any increased cv risk might manifest itself is apparently an issue at the trial. Merck is taking the position that Vioxx increases risk only after 18 months of use; the plaintiff in this case used it for only one month. This is the third Vioxx trial. His deposition criticized Merck's alleged efforts to spin trial data to decrease any statistical demonstration of increased risk and what he described as the company's efforts by their executives to influence him to stop his publications regarding Vioxx and CV deaths. He states that a former CEO of Merck contacted the CEO of Cleveland Clinic and a VP visited Topol to attempt to dissuade him from publishing anything reflecting poorly on their drug.
All of this came to light on the heels of Topol et al's JAMA publication regarding CV risk of a dual PPAR agonist, muraglitazar, which Merck had submitted to FDA for approval. Merck's interpretation of their data showed no increased risk while Topol and colleagues did.
The David and Goliath drama playing out between Topol and one of the biggest of Big Pharma is just one aspect of the still growing lack of credibility of drug company clinical trial data by the medical community and the general public.Another David story is told by HCRENEWAL wherein a Sheffield University researcher, Dr. Aubrey Blumsohn, is suspended by the university because of a dispute between Proctor and Gamble and Blumsohn regarding a study involving risedronate. That case seems to exemplify the "golden rule" which states that whoever has the gold make the rules.