Vioxx Is Prozac For Lawyers
by Eric Giguere
October 22, 2004
The day after Merck announced it was voluntarily withdrawing
Vioxx from the market (although it seems apparent that governments
were going to force it off the market anyhow) I wrote a
piece titled Vioxx
Recall Leads To Worldwide Spam Reduction and put it up here
on my site. It's a parody (I hope that was obvious!) and yet there
are some grains of truth in it, because up to the day of the recall
I was getting spam trying to sell me Vioxx. Other drugs, too,
but Vioxx seemed to be one of the "top hitters". And I think it was
something the spammers liked to push because it was definitely less
offensive. I know Vioxx worked I was actually taking it at the
time for pain relief, though not for arthritis. So, like thousands
(millions?) of others, I've been forced to look for something else.
Lawyers are the new Vioxx advertisers
In the piece, I talked about how the Vioxx recall could be
a short-term windfall for Google and other ad publishers, because
the lawyers would be looking for people who wanted to sue
Merck. What I didn't know was how accurate that prediction would be!
I've been tracking the kind of ads that are being displayed
via Google's AdSense
program on Vioxx-related pages. It took almost no time for lawyers
to step in and fill the gap left by online pharmacies who could
no longer sell Vioxx. Sure, there are also ads for alternative pain
relief treatments, but by and large the ads are predominantly from
law firms looking for Vioxx-related business. You could say that
Vioxx has become the new Prozac for lawyers... who needs a
"feel happy" pill when you have such a juicy lawsuit target
in your sights?
Vioxx withdrawal a disaster for Merck and others
The Vioxx recall is a marketing and a financial disaster
for Merck. An article in today's
Globe and Mail
describes how the Vioxx fiasco drove down Merck's third-quarter profit
by 29%. Things don't look good going forward, either. The article
mentions how Merck faces "costly litigation" because of Vioxx.
No surprise given all the lawyers jumping on the bandwagon.
Other drug companies may find themselves in similar positions.
Drugs that are similar to Vioxx the whole class of
inhibitors are facing closer scrutiny as consumers
and the medical profession wonder if they have the same long-term risks
as Vioxx. I'm sure there are many excited lawyers looking into this,