How Dollars Dictated the Hasty Development of Vioxx

There may be one bright side about the nearly 10,000 (and counting) lawsuits pitting mega-drugmaker Merck against the families who took their heart-stopping pain reliever Vioxx in good faith: The world can see once and for all how drug development is driven by greed — not by health — and protected by federal entities that treat big business far better than they do their own citizens.

During the latest state court case arguing the dangers of Vioxx in New Jersey, a former Merck executive revealed his company rushed the COX-2 inhibitor to market because it might lose more than $600 million in profits annually if it didn’t beat Pfizer’s Celebrex to market.

Merck analysts determined Vioxx would earn less than $300 billion if Celebrex hit the market first, and nearly $900 million if their own drug did. It seems, however, Merck’s estimates were a bit low. Annual sales reached $2.5 billion before the drug was pulled 18 months ago.

In fact, Merck was so certain Vioxx would be a hit, the company hired more salespeople than ever and dropped a million on a product launch party where Vioxx containers were handed to attendees, literally, on a silver platter.

Just a reminder, if you’re struggling with pain, there are far safer and healthier ways to treat it.

Yahoo News March 7, 2006