| Merck |
|Headquarters||Kenilworth, New Jersey, United States|
|Member of||Council on Foreign Relations/Corporate Members|
|Big pharma with a long rap sheet of unethical practices|
The U.S. based Merck & Co., Inc. is one of the world's seven largest pharmaceutical companies. It describes itself as "a global research-driven pharmaceutical company dedicated to putting patients first."  "Putting patients first" has so far "led to more than 27,000 heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths"  through their arthritis treatment Vioxx between its approval in 1999 and its withdrawal from the market in 2004.
In November 2009, Merck & Co. merged with competitor Schering-Plough, in a US$41 billion deal.
Merck provides different lists of products for patients and healthcare professionals. That for professionals includes medicines and a vaccine that are partly not approved yet.
Patients get information on:
- Rotateq, a rotavirus vaccine for children 
- Crixivan, an antiretroviral agent for HIV patients, recommended to be taken in combination with other antiretroviral agents 
- Emend, a medication to suppress nausea and vomiting as side effects of chemotherapy 
- Fosamax, an Osteoporosis medication 
- Fosamax Plus D, with added vitamin D 
- Maxalt, a painkiller for migraine patients 
- Propecia, treatment for male hair loss 
- Proscar, a medication for prostate treatment 
- Singulair, an asthma and allergy treatment 
- Vioxx, a painkiller for arthritis patients. The link  provided by Merck only shows Merck's hideous attempt to justify the Vioxx scandal (see below)
- Zocor, a cholesterol medication 
The Vioxx scandal
From the Guardian, March 16, 2006: "Thousands of patients are now suing manufacturers Merck after the company was forced to withdraw the painkiller, widely used by arthritis sufferers, in 2004. Data from its trials had emerged showing that it increased the risks of heart attack. David Graham of the Food and Drug Administration, the US drug regulator, said it could have caused up to 140,000 cases of heart disease in the US since it was licensed in 1999."
Merck keeps claiming they voluntarily withdrew Vioxx from the market. 
"Insider emails published by the Wall Street Journal reveal that Merck, the maker of Vioxx, was fully aware of the health risks of its COX-2 inhibitor anti-inflammatory drug as early as March, 2000. As is apparent from the published emails, there was a concerted effort to bury the negative evidence and even distort the drug trials by excluding heart patients from the Vioxx studies so that, "...the rate of cardiovascular problems for Vioxx patients would not be evident." " 
Sham medical journal
From 2002 through 2005 the Australian affiliate of Merck paid Elsevier an undisclosed amount to publish eight issues of a medical journal, the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine. Although it gave the appearance of being an independent peer-reviewed journal, without any indication that Merck had paid for it, the journal actually reprinted articles that originally appeared in other publications and that were favorable to Merck. The misleading publication came to light in 2009 during a personal injury lawsuit filed over Vioxx; 9 of 29 articles in the journal's second issue referred positively to Vioxx.
Mercury levels and Thimerosol vaccines
In early 2005, the Los Angeles Times obtained a memo from Merck revealing that, prior to the first public disclosure, senior executives were concerned about mercury levels in vaccinations containing a widely used sterilizing agent. The March of 1991 memo revealed concerns about 6-month-old children getting a mercury dose as much as 87 times higher than guidelines for the maximum daily consumption of mercury from fish. According to Dr. Maurice R. Hilleman in a memo to the president of Merck's vaccine division:
"When viewed in this way, the mercury load appears rather large."
The memo was prepared as U.S. health authorities aggressively expanded their immunization schedule by adding five new shots for children in their first six months. Many of these shots, as well as some previously included on the schedule, contained thimerosal, an anti-bacterial compound that is nearly 50% ethyl mercury, a neurotoxin. In 1999, federal health officials disclosed that many infants were being exposed to dangerously high mercury levels, following a review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, the memo revealed that Merck was aware of the concern much earlier.
As of February of 2005, over 4,200 claims have been filed in a special federal tribunal, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, by parents asserting that their children suffered autism or other neurodevelopmental disorders from mercury poisoning. Thimerosal has been largely removed from pediatric vaccines as a "precautionary measure."
Bone Measurement Institute
The Bone Measurement Institute is a front group formed by Merck to help expand the market for its drug Fosamax, by encouraging doctors to use bone-measuring devices in their offices and convincing women at or around the age of menopause that they have a new, heretofore little-known condition called "osteopenia."
Merck and Schering-Plough, which co-marketed the cholesterol drug Vytorin, went into damage-control mode taking out newspaper ads, reported Advertising Age in January 2008. The pharmaceutical companies' public relations campaign followed their reluctant publication of a study which revealed that neither drug in present in Vytorin reduced fatty plaque build-up in arteries. The study was completed in 2006, but Merck and Schering did not release it for 21 months, allegedly due to "complexity of the data and their own scientific concerns."
The drug companies' newspaper ads, which ran in the New York Times and USA Today, referred to the damning study as "a single study that has generated a lot of confusion." They stressed that the drugs "have been proven to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol." However, the study showed was that Vytorin was not "any better than generic Zocor in reducing the buildup of fatty plaque." Members of Congress called for an investigation into why the "massive advertisement campaign for Vytorin was allowed to continue," after the study was belatedly made public. Class-action lawsuits were file, alleging that Merck and Schering-Plough "misrepresented and withheld significant information" from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the public.  In July 2008, a major European study of over 1,800 patients and researchers at 173 hospitals and other sites found that Vytorin:
"was no better than placebo at lowering the risk of major cardiovascular events -- including heart attack, stroke, heart surgery and death -- in patients with aortic stenosis." Vytorin "did cut cholesterol levels about 60 percent," but that effect was previously known and is also seen when Zocor (one of two drugs that comprise Vytorin) is taken alone. The European study also observed an increase in cancer cases and deaths among patients taking Vytorin, but researchers said this was not likely due to the drug.
Public Relations, Lobbying and Business Intelligence Firms
Merck appears as a client with Rabin Strategic Partners (A full-service consultany, public relations and communications agency) alongside Johnson & Johnson. However the nature of the link between the two companies is not divulged.
Merck & Co is also listed as a member of the American Benefits Council and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations in 2008.
Policy Exchange funding
Merck Ltd is reported to support the following patient groups...
- Cancer BACUP
- Cancer Care Cymru
- Ulster Cancer Foundation
- Bowel Cancer UK (formerly Colon Cancer Concern)
- Beating Bowel Cancer
- Mouth Cancer Foundation
- Let's Face It
- Get Ahead
- Merck Pharmaceuticals UK Welcome to Merck Accessed 13th December 2007
- Sanofi Pasteur MSD Annual Report and Accounts 2006
- Register 1st September 2014 - 30th November 2014 APPC, accessed 29 January 2015
- Hanover Communications profile 2016, Register of consultant lobbyists, accessed 25 April 2016
- Rabin Strategic Partners Our Clients Accessed 2nd January 2008
- Business Insights Patient Power: The shift towards more informed, more powerful consumers of drugs Accessed 5th February 2008
- The Gorlin Group Clients Accessed 20th March 2008
- Innovex Our Customers Accessed 12th February 2008
- Public Relations Organisation International Inforpress accessed 13th February 2008
- FischerAppelt Kommunikation Current & former clients Accessed 14th February 2008
- American Benefits Council Memberships Accessed 26th February 2008
- International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations Members Accessed 11th March 2008
- Social Market Foundation Annual Report 2005/06 Accessed 6th March 2008
- MERCK, Corporate Social Responsibility, Q1/2 2009 Grants & Donations to Institutions and payments to Patient Organizations United Kingdom.
- Merck Patient Groups Accessed 12th February 2008
- Cherie Blair Foundation Donors and partners, accessed 30 March 2015