Merck Company and Vioxx

Merck engages three strategies in the form of advertisements to counter the negative press over its handling of the drug, Vioxx. They demonstrate that they are committed by building “ethos” with the public. Merck clearly demonstrate this to their customers by using these three strategies:

  • Customer satisfaction is the principle goal
  • They use a strategy of demonstrating that they are well versed at what they do and lastly, They are a reputed company, having been in the business for over a hundred years.

The principle that customer satisfaction is paramount comes out very clearly in both advertisements. It clearly brings out Merck as a company not seeking profits at the expense of its customers. By voluntarily withdrawing Vioxx on September 30, 2004, Merck builds a good reputation as a responsible company (Merck OL). Raymond Gilmartin strives to regain the confidence of the public. The company demonstrates corporate responsibility and the company’s commitment to review the product and quickly make the necessary decisions. Merck is thus faithfully adhering to the principles of transparency and the principles of science as a discipline.

Merck managed to fight for the drug for up to four years according to (The Lancet). The paper had also previously commended the company for the prompt action in the face of continued media drama about the drug. The wall street journal investigators had found e-mails that showed that Merck knew abut the cardiovascular implications of Vioxx long before the media unveiled the saga. Merck had even come up with a document that they called “The Dodge Ball” that stated the best way to dodge questions addressing the same.

Research institutions and professors continued to tarnish Mecrk’s name. This was due to the findings of a Merck-sponsored research dubbed Vigor in early 1999. The sample was 8000 patients and was meant to prove the drug’s gastrointestinal safety advantages(WSJ). People taking a high dose of Vioxx were compared with those taking naproxen, a drug known to cause stomach complications. People who had a high risk of heart infection were excluded. The results clearly showed that the drug had cardiovascular implications but there was no clear solution to this upto the time it was removed from the market. Merck thrived on the incapability of institutions to conduct such a research.

Merck in the advertisement is also brought out as a champion in its field. Merck has the facts and they know what they are talking about in detail. The fact that they have been in drug production for over a century clearly shows they are among the best. Merck knows the Dos’ and don’ts’ of the business. Their drugs go through vigorous research and are of world standards. The company goes an extra mile to study their medicine even after regulatory agencies have approved it. The CEO continues to explain that Merck has for the last century produced life-saving drugs in all aspects of life. It continues to carry out extensive research in diseases like cancer. Thus Merck has the best knowledge and resources in its field and believes that its drugs are for the benefit of humanity.

To prove this, it was Merck that carried out the researches, independently. Merck took full responsibility of the situation by going back to the drawing board by taking steps to investigate and address the issue. The lawyer representing Merck, Ted Mayer said that the e-mails were taken out of context and that Merck did not authorize the release of those documents to the media. Mr. Mayer was thus protecting the name of the company in regards to its internal affairs. Mr. Mayer continued to explain that was open and committed to scientific debate.He also made it clear that the company never assed a policy to block scientists. However, the company held the right to protect all its medicine from false claims.

Merck has a history of doing the right thing. The title of the advertisement- For 100 Years, Patients first- is as catchy as it is precise (Merck PF). This strategy has been used to further improve customer confidence. For over a century, the company has spearheaded research in various medicinal fields with a lot of success. Merck is thus confident that Vioxx is the right drug and that it still has the right to remain in the market. Mr.Gilmartin states that inconsistent statements have been made regarding their integrity and goes ahead to explain the steps the company has taken to make sure their drugs have been safe all through.

The company went ahead to show that it was on the right track by conducting a survey that yielded results that changed the focus.  By 2001, the results of Vigor research had changed the question to whether Vioxx wasintrinsically risky? It had come out clearly that the drug lowered the risk of gastrointestinal complications as compared to other older drugs like naproxen. The drug thus had an advantage over older drugs.

Merck acted in its best to protect the reputation of the company. However, they strategies could only work for four years as the statistics continued to work against them. The strategies were thus ineffective as the drug as there is continued erosion of trust by the public and health facilities. After 2004, with public trust lost and the drug withdrawn, the company ,s stock fell and it stood at the level it was more than eight years ago.

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