February 26, 2005
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group in Washington D.C. says 10 out of the 32 advisors on the Federal Food and Drug Administration advisory panel have disclosed ties to Merck and Pfizer, the companies which sell Vioxx and Bextra. That panel voted recently to approve the return of Vioxx and Bextra to the marketplace after they had been removed over safety concerns.
The Center for Science in the Public said the ten members of the panel with ties to the companies voted nine-to-one in favor of both Vioxx and Bextra. Without their votes the panel would have voted 14 to 8 to withdraw Vioxx, and 12 to 8 to withdraw Bextra.
The advocacy group identified the ten from their database of disclosures in public documents such as medical journals. It noted that other panel members may have ties to Merck and Pfizer but they have not been disclosed.
The New York Times reported that shares of Merck and Pfizer soared immediately after the panel's vote.
NYT also reported that some lawyers and analysts on Wall Street felt that the panel's vote would help the companies fight off consumer lawsuits.