Good news today for those in Britain fighting for compensation from US drug giant Merck. As Jim Giles reported in January, relatives of British people who suffered heart attacks and other health problems after taking Merck’s deadly painkiller, Vioxx, had been told that they could not pursue their claims in court because they were not US residents. Despite the multinational having paid out more than £2bn to 44,000 people in America, the British government declined to help the British claimants, saying it would be “inappropriate” for the government to intervene in the situation.
But now, according to the Guardian, new documents obtained under the freedom of information act reveal that the government only withdrew its support for the claimants after Merck, with the help of lobbying firm APCO, put pressure on them to do so—rubbishing the idea that they acted as a neutral party. The documents reveal “Merck’s hidden hand,” says Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, a campaigner for British victims of Vioxx, adding that “the government could have played a crucial role in exerting moral pressure to force the company to pay.”
To read Jim Giles’s full report on the Merck scandal for Prospect last November, click here.