Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Drug report left some important information out

Your article 'Drug trial was halted over risks' (November 24) described an article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, but it did not include discussion of some of the important limitations in that article.

For example, while the authors purported to conduct an analysis designed to look at the safety of Vioxx with respect to thrombotic events, they ignored the results of a rigorous adjudication procedure designed to determine whether or not events were in fact thrombotic, and they included a number of events that were clearly not.

The authors included events that occurred long after patients had stopped taking medicine.

The authors' methodology was less reliable than the methodology Merck used.

The scientific exercise of examining what the data showed about Vioxx's cardiovascular safety over time is an important one and scientists did exactly that.

Nothing is more important to Merck than patient safety. Merck acted responsibly - from researching Vioxx prior to approval, to monitoring the medicine while on the market and voluntarily withdrawing it.

RON ROGERS

Global Communications, Merck Sharp & Dohme

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