Three weeks ago, in what I feared might have been a fit of pathological optimism, I suggested that reaction to the way Merck and Schering-Plough were handling reporting about the trial of Zetia, their $5 billion cholesterol-lowering drug, indicated a tipping point about drug industry ethics:
"When media, legislators and their staffs, physician leaders around the country, and movies like “The Constant Gardner,” speak in unison, and when liability lawyers are waiting in the wings to hit Pharma with yet another class action suit, we have a powerful force emerging. The lure of blockbuster profits from blockbuster drugs draws out every technique of wild west capitalism, but at this point the pushback is too strong to be chilled out by a public relations campaign."
Yesterday's New York Times reported that the House Committee on Energy and Commerce is demanding information on the study. The Committee directed the companies to retain relevant documents.
Whatever ultimately emerges with regard to this particular incident, the pressure for transparency about drug trials and better information on drug perfomance is rapidly escalating. This is all to the good.