Manufacturing the truth: from designing clinical trials to publishing trial data
This paper expands on some of the points made by Deepak Natarajan on techniques used in designing clinical trials of new drugs to ensure favourable outcomes. It also considers the nexus between the manufacturers of new drugs and the publishers of medical journals in which edited versions of these favourable outcomes are presented to the medical fraternity. The argument will be illustrated by referring to the clinical trials of rofecoxib (Vioxx®) and etoricoxib (Arcoxia®). Both these drugs are COX-2 selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) manufactured by Merck & Co. Because of the unparalleled access to Merck’s internal confidential documents, due to the subpoenaing of these documents by government and private individuals in civil and criminal actions, we are still learning about the company’s unconscionable acts. What we learn can inform our judgement concerning published reports of both new and old drugs.
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