Investigative journalist Snigdha Prakash has played a central role in bringing to light corruption within Merck Pharmaceuticals and their efforts to ignore and cover up the life-threatening risks of heart disease caused by their painkiller Vioxx. She provides a full account of Merck's scandal in her book, All the Justice Money Can Buy: Corporate Greed on Trial, winner of the Gene Roberts Book Award. This week Prakash once again investigates important happenings related to Merck in an article appearing in Slate, though this scandal is outside of big pharma.
Following allegations of sexual abuse raised against football coach Jerry Sandusky, Penn State has hired Merck CEO Kenneth C. Frazier, a Penn State alum and lawyer, to investigate the scandal. Prakash lays out the parallels between the two scandals:
Merck had a legal duty to warn patients that Vioxx could cause heart attacks, and Penn State had at the very least an ethical duty to tell police that Jerry Sandusky may be a pedophile. Neither institution fulfilled its responsibilities with devastating consequences for those on the outside.
Different sites and different types of scandals, but central to both is the power of money to corrupt. "At Merck, they were protecting a multibillion dollar drug. At Penn State, they were protecting a football program that brings in $70 million per year."
Read more about what makes the choice of Frazier a "terrible irony."
Previously on Biopolitical Times:
Posted in Biotech & Pharma, Emily Beitiks' Blog Posts
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