Ever heard of a medical journal called the Australasian Journal of Bone & Joint Medicine? Thought not - because it was invented by pharmaceutical giant Merck in order to sell its discredited drug Vioxx.
Merck invented the journal and fake research that was published in it to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of its painkiller, an Australian court has heard.
Merck made a $4.85bn out of court settlement in the US to the 50,000 victims or families who had taken the drug, and had either died or suffered long-lasting heart problems.
While Merck hid vital data from the regulators in America, they took another tack in Australia, a court there has been hearing. There they created the medical journal which was used as a vehicle to publish supposed medical trials, the court was told.
Vioxx was taken off the market in 80 countries in 2004 after a trial, published in an independent medical journal, found the drug increased the risk of stroke and heart attack.
If the current case against Merck is proved, the drug company is expected to make a multi-million dollar payout to around 3,000 Vioxx victims in Australia.
(Source: New York Times, May 14, 2009).