Doctors hold firm on Vioxx-type products

NEW JERSEY: The recall of Vioxx, Merck & Co’s arthritis treatment, has had little impact on doctors’ confidence in similar drugs, according to US research.

A poll of the prescribing habits of 350 doctors by NOP World Health in the wake of the recall suggests there is little reluctance in continuing to prescribe painkillers belonging to the same class as Vioxx – COX-II inhibitors – which was withdrawn last month (PRWeek, 8 October).

Merck’s reputation continues to suffer, with media articles ranging from The Wall Street Journal to The Lancet threatening to derail its crisis management effort. The WSJ has cited an internal e-mail suggesting that Merck was aware of Vioxx’s safety risks in the late 1990s. Merck maintains it acted responsibly.

An NOP spokeswoman said physicians tend to care more about the reputation of the product or their relationship with a sales rep than the reputation of the firm itself.

Merck is the company behind arthritis product Arcoxia, which is awaiting Food and Drug Administration approval.

Kate Nicholas, p20

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