Company Information About Merck & Co.
In 1668, KGaA, the parent company of Merck, was started in Germany. Its
founder, Fredrick Jacob Merck, sold pain medication, including cocaine,
codeine, and morphine. By 1891, Merck & Co., the U.S. branch of the
company, was opened. It became the first commercial pharmaceutical businesses
to sell the smallpox vaccine. It published a guide for doctors and pharmacists
that contained valuable information about the industry. Today, this “Merck
Manual” is translated into 17 different languages and is considered
the world’s most recognized medical text. In 1944, Merck experienced
two important accomplishments; discovering an antibiotic for tuberculosis
and a cortisone synthesis for pain. By 1963, Merck dedicated a large amount
of its resources toward vaccine production. It was the first company to
introduce prevention for measles and mumps. Throughout the years, this
pharmaceutical giant created numerous well-known drugs. Vasotec, a medicine
used to treat congestive heart failure, became the company’s first
product to earn over $1 billion. By 2000, the business expanded through
a buyout of Schery-Plough, another large pharmaceutical manufacturer.
This gave Merck access to famous brands like Coppertone and Dr. Scholl’s.
Despite the successes, it was not all smooth sailing. Merck has definitely
faced a few challenges.
Drugs Recalled Against Merck & Co
Back in 2013, Merck issued a voluntary recall on a lot of its Gardasil
vaccines. There was a noted risk that some vials contained glass particles
that could cause reactions at injection sites. Gardasil is used to protect
against certain strains of the human papillomavirus, which leads to cervical cancer.
In 2014, Merck recalled all lots of Liptruzet, its cholesterol drug. It
appeared many of the outer foil pouches allowed air and moisture to penetrate.
This could have decreased the effectiveness or changed the characteristics
of the drug.
The most serious recall faced by Merck was against its product Vioxx, an
anti-inflammatory used to kill pain. After a study revealed the drug doubled
the risks of developing heart attacks and death, the medicine was taken
off the market in 2014.
Lawsuits Facing Merck & Co
Over the years, numerous lawsuits have been filed against Merck & Co.
for some of its most popular drugs. For instance, in 2012, Merck faced
a class action suit over its MMR vaccine. Two former employees alleged
the manufacturer’s product did not live up to its 95 percent effectiveness
rating. The whistleblowers stated Merck falsified test results and sold
massive quantities of the questionable treatment under false pretenses.
Since Merck provides over half of all vaccines to the United States, many
citizens were victims of fraud. Since the vaccine does not supply adequate
protection against the disease, millions of children were put at risk
from Merck’s negligent behavior.
Januvia is Merck’s drug used to treat type 2 diabetes. However, it
has been associated with serious side effects. There have been over 200
reports of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer, one of the most fatal forms
of the disease. To receive compensation for injury or death, many lawsuits
have been filed.
Another large lawsuit against Merck involved its drug Fosamax. Numerous
studies have proven long-term use causes weakened bones. Many patients
who use the drug require surgery or physical rehabilitation to gain lost function.
Many lawsuits have been filed against the drug Propecia, another medication
manufactured by Merck. This anti-baldness medicine allegedly causes sexual
dysfunction and other negative side effects, including anxiety, depression,
and male breast cancer.
The worst legal claims against Merck involved Vioxx. Following FDA approval,
the medicine was linked to thousands of strokes, heart attacks, and deaths.
However, Merck denied all problems associated with the drug. Through numerous
studies, it was shown that Vioxx drastically increased risks of developing
fatal heart attacks. Even after these findings, Merck refused to pull
the drug from the market. After a second study backed the initial research,
Merck finally issued a recall. Since more than 25 million Americans used
the drug, over 200,000 patients suffered needless injuries or wrongful
death. Numerous victims are suing for adequate compensation.
Verdicts Against Merck & Co
Back in 2013, Merck agreed to a settlement proposal concerning the claims
against Fosamax. According to the agreement, Merck would pay $27.7 million
to victims who claimed they experienced bone deterioration in their jaws.
In other news, Merck was made to pay nearly $7 billion during its Vioxx
scandal. Even after a decade following its recall, there were more disagreements
regarding how the drug was FDA approved from the beginning. More astounding
was the fact it was offered to the public for five years. Tens of thousands
of lawsuits were filed against Merck, which may have been the largest
multidistrict litigation in history. Merck agreed to pay the settlement
but did not admit any guilt.
The problems with Vioxx went deeper than the lawsuits filed by users. Shareholders
and the government accused Merck of deceitfully marketing its drugs. As
questions were raised, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee took a closer
look at Merck’s relationship with the FDA. There were claims Vioxx’s
side effects were minimized, and the manufacturer practiced questionable
marketing. Merck plead guilty to these accusations and paid $950 million.
There was also a Medicaid scandal that resulted in another $650 million
settlement. In 2008, the Justice Department examined accusations Merck
provided hospitals with major incentives so that Medicaid patients would
receive the drug and be forced to continue with it after being released.
Along with the payment, the company was forced to sign a five-year Corporate
FDA Sanctions Against Merck & Co
In June 2013, the FDA issued a warning about Propecia, a drug used to prevent
balding. Studies showed Proscar, its main ingredient, can cause an aggressive
form of prostate cancer.
One of the worst FDA sanctions against Merck involved Fosamax, its osteoporosis
drug. A warning was issued regarding side effects like muscle and bone
pain in the jaw. Other problems surfaced after “The Clinical Orthopedics
and Related Research” published a study that supplied evidence of
increased risks of femur fractures after long-term use. The FDA continues
to review new studies to determine if more warnings are needed.
NuvaRing, a birth control device produced by Organon, a subsidiary of Merck,
has been sanctioned by the FDA. Many women who used this device experienced
life-threatening blood clots. Due to these problems, the FDA released
a drug safety communication in 2001.