I’m losing patience with the company claiming to care so much about patients

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. Merck

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.

4 thoughts on “I’m losing patience with the company claiming to care so much about patients

  1. David, Merck needs to accept responsibility for its actions. As the saying goes “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Merck should appoint an independent, blue-ribbon panel to investigate both drugs and report its findings. In the meantime, the responsible thing to do would be to remove both drugs from the market until they’re proven 100 percent safe. That’s what J&J did with Tylenol and, as a result, saw their market share actually increase.

  2. I understand your point, Steve, but I just don’t see any other way for the company to promote itself. What do you recommend thet do?

  3. I’m not suggesting they close up shop, David. But, they can’t ignore the back-to-back Vioxx and Fosamax disasters by running ads that are warm and fuzzy. That would be like Enron running ads in the aftermath of their financial crisis with a tagline such as, “Fiscally responsible.” When a message isn’t based upon facts and truth, it will not only cause a consumer to dial the message out, it can also turn the consumer against the company.

  4. Of course Merck sucks, but are they supposed to run ads that say “X million deaths and counting?”
    They’re a business after all, so are they supposed to close up shop before the Feds do? I don’t think they have a choice but to be out there with a different message than what consumers are already hearing about them.
    It’s disgusting and amoral to do so, but it’s not illegal and it’s what needs to be done.