Showing posts tagged corporate malfeasance

The first fun thing to emerge in the Australian case is email documentation showing staff at Merck made a “hit list” of doctors who were critical of the company, or of the drug. This list contained words such as “neutralise”, “neutralised” and “discredit” next to the names of various doctors.

"We may need to seek them out and destroy them where they live," said one email, from a Merck employee. Staff are also alleged to have used other tactics, such as trying to interfere with academic appointments, and dropping hints about how funding to institutions might dry up. Institutions might think about whether they wish to receive money from a company like that in future. Worse still, is the revelation that Merck paid the publisher Elsevier to produce a publication.

This is actually from a couple years ago (I happened to be reading about a recent push, which I’m totally in favor of, for academics to refuse to take part in publishing in Elsevier journals, over their shitty business practices and lobbying for SOPA). Basically, the academic journal publisher Elsevier created at least six fake academic journals, including the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, which republished articles solely relating to positive news about Merck products. This came to light in an Australian case about the Merck drug Vioxx, which has been linked to heart attacks in patients taking it. Merck was able to convince the British government not to allow a similar suit to proceed there.

Truly, the pharmaceutical industry is one of the clearest examples of the extent to which our society has been transformed to shovel vast piles of money into the pockets of the already wealthy. Everything it touches is corrupted. Both Merck and Elsevier’s shitty business models entirely depend on exploiting government-created rules on intellectual property to screw over both the creators and consumers of said intellectual property. Much like the big record companies, except that instead of the latest Ke$ha single, it’s life-saving drugs. Or maybe drugs that will give you a heart attack. Whatever, as long as you pay for them, they don’t really seem concerned with details like that.