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Merck Misrepresented Vioxx Data: JAMA Report

A new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association is highly critical of drugmaker Merck and its handling of the painkiller Vioxx.

The JAMA article says Merck misrepresented apparent Vioxx-related deaths in studies to see if the drug worked on Alzheimer's Disease.

A review of the clinical trials, which came to light during the Vioxx litigation, shows a three-fold increase in the risk of death among the patients who got Vioxx, according to the peer-reviewed medical journal.

But in a press release, Merck says that after careful analysis there was no suggestion the deaths were caused by the drug and that the JAMA report's conclusions are "false, misleading, or lack context".

Merck voluntarily pulled Vioxx off the market in 2004 because of an increased heart risk. The company has since settled most of the resulting lawsuits for nearly $5 billion.

One of the two authors of the JAMA article was a paid expert witness for Vioxx plaintiffs.