Merck CEO: 'I can't blame the media'

A triad of Merck news today, including one item about the news. We'll start with that: CEO Dick Clark (photo) worried publicly about the media at a Morgan Stanley conference yesterday. In response to a question about the negative bent to Merck coverage these days, Clark said Merck and Big Pharma as a whole need to "do a better job...I don't think we're aggressive enough in getting our stories out there." He also used his new buzz-phrase "trust deficit" to describe the cloud hanging over the industry. Pressed, he said, "I can't blame the media. I have to blame us."

That's quite a turnabout for Clark, who blamed "media hype" for misleading folks to an unfairly negative view of Vytorin, the combo cholesterol drug that delivered disappointing results in the now-infamous Enhance study.

Meanwhile, the company and FDA have agreed on a labeling update to RotaTeq, the infant vaccine to prevent rotavirus infection. The new label will include the report of one vaccinated infant's death from a bowel obstruction. Back in February 2007 the FDA warned that 28 infants developed intussusception after taking RotaTeq, but the rate of that condition didn't exceed what's commonly seen among un-vaccinated babies. Merck reiterated that conclusion in announcing the labeling change.

And finally, Merck is giving Vioxx users more time to cough up documents that show they took Vioxx and then had a heart attack or stroke. The new deadline is June 30, instead of May 1.

- see the item in the Wall Street Journal Health Blog
- check out the vaccine news at MarketWatch
- find the Vioxx update in the Daily Record

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