Leading policy-makers and scholars explain how market forces, deregulation, and consumer choice can work to improve health care for all Americans.


Commentary: Was Withdrawing Vioxx the 'Right Thing to Do'?
Holman W. Jenkins Jr., Wall Street Journal, 11-10-04

Mr. Jenkins thinks that the Vioxx withdrawal was a blunder. On balance, the market and physicians had been aware of risks with the drug since a large clinical trial in 2000 first hinted at the problem. Later, the Wall Street Journal ran “a front-page story on the heart risks of Vioxx and other so-called Cox-2 drugs on August 21, 2001.” And, to top it all off, trial lawyers were coordinating a national litigation effort “by early 2002.”

What changed this year? Good question. Jenkins concludes that “Merck is in hot water now not because Vioxx was excessively risky, but because the wrong people were taking it - a problem for which doctors and the insurance system are also to blame.” In fact, according to one researcher, “the biggest determinant of whether a patient takes a Cox-2 or a cheaper drug is whether an insurance company is paying.” Overall, Jenkins concludes - rightfully, we think - that “the Vioxx debacle is symptomatic of a system that shields consumers from price signals and sometimes actually discourages them from making the right health-care choices.”

Project FDA.
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