Merck’s new corporate advertising campaign depicts how sensitive and caring the company is when it comes to "…providing medicine for patients who need it most." The tear-jerker of a spot shows one poor, working class patient after another being helped by Merck meds to solve a malady that might otherwise go untreated.
This would be smart advertising if it didn’t fly in the face of Merck’s transgressions with Vioxx, the painkilling medication that has been linked to causing massive heart attacks in "patients" who have taken it. Despite countless examples of the drug doing such a dastardly deed, Merck not only denies fault, but has been found guilty of covering up negative reports and continuing to aggressively market Vioxx to unsuspecting docs and, yes, patients.
Now comes news that another Merck drug, Fosamax, may also be wreaking damage. The osteoporosis med has been linked with a disease called osteonecrosis, which causes the jaw bone to wither and die. Talk about jaw-dropping news. Ouch!
Once again, Merck is in full denial mode, saying Fosamax hasn’t been linked to any such problems and continuing to market it aggressively in the marketplace.
Merck was once seen as a bellwether of corporate responsibility, an image its hoping to rekindle via the new ad campaign. Sadly, though, the Vioxx and Fosamax debacles not only undermine such an effort, they’re actually speeding an unintentional re-positioning "side effect." Many people now see Merck as a cold, uncaring company with one goal in mind: pushing highly destructive pills to docs and patients alike. I, for one, am having an adverse reaction to Merck’s meds marketing messages.