To the Editor:
I read your report on the suits in Madison County over Vioxx and thimerosal in vaccines.
This came as a surprise to me because I thought suits involving vaccine damage had to be filed in the federal "Vaccine Court." (And I've heard there are now 9,000 cases pending there.)
It only seems fair that if suits over Vioxx can be filed in state courts, why can't vaccine damage cases also be?
The Vioxx scandal involves not only production of a dangerous product, but also, the continued sale of that product after this was known to Merck Pharmaceutical Corporation.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL reported that as early as 1997, an email from a Merck official suggests that Merck understood the potential for heart attacks from taking Vioxx, and recommended these patients take aspirin as a preventive measure.
In 2000, Merck Pharmaceutical Corporation clearly knew of the potential of Vioxx to double a person's risk of heart attack, and did nothing. It wasn't until this fall that it was taken off the market.
What about the fact that the FDA approved this drug?
Doctors assume that if a drug is licensed by the FDA, it's been tested for safe and efficacy.
There are over 700 conflict of interest waivers for people in the CDC and FDA who approve drugs because they also own stock or sit on boards of pharmaceutical companies, hold patents, or have their research paid for by drug companies.
All the members of the approval committees of the CDC and the FDA own stock in pharmaceutical corporations.
How much oversight is there? Or is it merely rubber-stamping whatever the pharmaceutical companies want?
As one news report put it, "has the FDA assumed the role of the drug industry's profit maximizer?"
Anne McElroy Dachel
Chippewa Falls, WI