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NY State Investigates Merck (MRK) And Schering-Plough (SGP)

Once Eliot Spitzer left his office as prosecutor to become governor of New York State many feared that there would be no one left to devil large corporations and Wall St. firms. The fears were premature. NY State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has taken up the sword.

The most recent of Cuomo’s tilts is in the direction of Big Pharma. He wants to know why Merck (MRK) and Schering-Plough (SGP) were so late releasing studies on their cholesterol drug Vytorin. According to The Wall Street Journal “Mr. Cuomo has served the companies with subpoenas as part of a probe into whether the companies “deliberately concealed” negative results from the study.”

The results of drug trials involving Vytorin were ready in April 2006 but did not come out until early this year. The drug does not appear to work very well. Cuomo’s questioning is both fair and balanced.

The drug trial data under examination are not the first that Big Pharma has gotten to market late. Some trials are not widely circulated while others are. The ones kept quiet are usually not terribly positive for the drugs being test.

Big Pharma has not learned any lessons and Mr. Cuomo is unlikely to school them. But, he may keep them honest.

Douglas A. McIntyre