By 2003, the panel monitoring this trial noted that the incidence of heart attacks and strokes was 20 percent higher among patients on VIOXX than on the placebo and by 2004 this difference was 80 percent; in September of that year Merck withdrew Vioxx from the market (Waymor). If I was the CEO of Merck I would have disclosed these risks to the FDA as soon as they were discovered so that the patients currently taking VIOXX would have been able to make their own informed decisions whether to continue taking it or not. Merck profits would have dropped, but patients would have lived and Merck’s legal liabilities would have been far less.
By the time Merck withdrew VIOXX, they had known of evidence that it lead to increased cardiovascular risks for at least three years and possibly more and had publicly denied that there was any risk associated with VIOXX (Waymor). On September 30, 2004, Merck ran an ad in many national newspapers which announced their withdrawal of VIOXX from the market. The advertisement consisted of a letter from Raymond B. Gilmartin, Chairman, President and CEO of Merck, and included the company motto: ‘where patients come first. ” The ad typically appeared in the business section of the newspaper, but lacing it in the daily newspaper around the country suggests that it was meant to be viewed by the public at large. Gilmartin, asserted that the decision to withdraw VIOXX demonstrated that Merck’s commitment to its patients is clear and concluded that it was taking action ‘because we believe it best serves the interest of patients. ” The ad claimed that the withdraw was voluntary and repeated the claim four times in a one page letter. The company stated that it would reimburse all patients for their unused VIOXX (Heal).
Merck’s voluntary actions allowed the organization more control of the situation than a recall forced upon them by the FDA and it began the process of rebuilding trust with its stakeholders. It created the impression that Merck is a proactive company that takes necessary action by choice and is therefore socially responsible for the health of its patients. Merck also represented itself as socially responsible by proclaiming that sacrifices are being made for their patient’s welfare. The company urged patients to discontinue use of VIOXX and find alternative treatments for pain management (Heal).
I feel that Merck did act socially responsible after the concerns about VIOXX had been made public. From an ethics point of view Merck should have disclosed it’s findings from the beginning. By continuing to produce and distribute VIOXX Merck endangered more lives. I feel that Merck did not have a choice but to take the necessary steps in order to rectify the situation. Merck acted socially responsible because they had too. If Merck had informed patients and medical professionals of its findings from the start then I feel that Merck would have saved itself a lot of time and money.
I feel that Merck was not demonstrating social responsibility in the beginning. If Merck was truly concerned about client’s health they would have made their findings public in 1999. Works Cited Waymor, Damion. Rhetorical and Critical Approached to Public Relations Edition 2. March 19, 2009 Heal, Geoffrey. When Principles Pay: Corporate Social Responsibility and the Bottom Line: May 2008 Lawrence, Anne T. Business and Society Stakeholders, Ethics, Public Policy 12th Edition New York, NY 2008. Print.