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PR Newswire (U.S.)

Merck Failed To Warn Hispanics in Spanish About Vioxx Cardio Risks

17 March 2005
Copyright © 2005 PR Newswire Association LLC. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, March 17 /PRNewswire/ -- A new report issued by the Consejo de Latinos Unidos, a national non-profit organization which educates and assists Latinos and others, shows that Hispanic patients and physicians in Puerto Rico appear to never have been informed in Spanish about the cardiovascular risks of Vioxx.

The Consejo made several key findings in its report, title La Muerte (Death in Spanish), including:

* Merck appears not to have adequately informed the public or medical community in Puerto Rico about the cardiovascular dangers of Vioxx, even after the FDA called on them to do so in late 2001.

* Merck appears to have failed to circulate information of the cardiovascular dangers in Spanish to the public or medical community in Puerto Rico between 2002 and 2004, the time period after they had modified Vioxx warning labels (known as patient package inserts) and before the drug was pulled.

"Merck has the responsibility to help those impacted by their negligence," said K.B. Forbes, Executive Director of the Consejo. "Merck and other pharmaceutical companies need to translate their warning labels into Spanish and distribute them as aggressively as they push their products."

The Consejo made several recommendations including:

* Merck and other leading pharmaceutical companies should institute a campaign in Spanish to educate the Puerto Rican community about the risks associated with their pharmaceutical products that is equal to the campaigns to promote their product.

* Merck and other leading pharmaceutical companies should publish all warning labels (patient package inserts) in Spanish and heavily distribute them with their representatives in Hispanic areas of the United States and in Puerto Rico.

Copies of the report can be obtained by emailing

In 2003, Consejo was credited by The Wall Street Journal with "a big win" after forcing the nation's second largest hospital chain, Tenet Healthcare, to change its aggressive billing practices against uninsured patients, many whom happen to be Hispanics.

CONTACT: K.B. Forbes, +1-202-320-1212, or Lourdes Galvan,+1-323-221-2357, both of the Consejo de Latinos Unidos

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