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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 Integrity Agreement.

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.

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