Merck, Vioxx, science, and marketing

In case you missed the story, Merck recalled Vioxx, a painkiller that killed as many as 60,000 Americans. In one of those ironies that make you faint, Merck got away with just a few billion dollars in settlement because almost all the victims were either elderly or out of shape or had other illnesses, that made it easy to Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) legal to put the blame of their misery or death on their poor health rather than the painkiller.

It is widely known that both Pfizer (PFE) and Merck used the same marketing techniques to sell painkillers like Vioxx, Celebrex, and Bextra that are used by The Coca-Cola Company (KO).

In a shocking article in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers have shown that the so-called Advantage trial that was supposedly done to test side effects of Vioxx was actually conducted to support a marketing campaign.

It is tempting to engage in unethical or even illegal activities to do increase sales or to raise your firm’s stock price, but it is simply poor business strategy.

Italian wine in a box

There is a strong argument being made why you should buy wine in a box rather than a bottle unless you have a very strong reason to do so, like, you want to age a wine or the wine that you absolutely must drink for whatever reason is not available in a box (in that case you should try to make sure that you recycle the bottle and also let your favorite winery know that they should make the wine in a box option available).

I have some more good news to report that comes from Tyler Colman. Italy, source of some of the best wines in the world, is allowing wine to be sold in boxes and still be able to get the Italian Ministry of Agriculture’s quality assurance label.

Just to point out that in case your favorite wine is not available in a box, you can buy many excellent wines from France, Australia, and the United States. Then there is always water or vodka.