WHISTLEBLOWERS SAY MERCK MUMPS VACCINE A DANGEROUS FRAUD

Two former employees of the pharmaceutical giant Merck allege that the company committed a multi-year fraud by selling a mumps vaccine that it knew would not only fail to protect children, but which raise serious health risks as well. Virologist Stephen Krahling and Joan Wlochowski say they observed the fraud when a supervisor changed test results which showed the vaccine was not working. In addition, they allege the supervisor also destroyed garbage bags full of evidence to hide the fraud, as well as lying to FDA regulators who came to the lab after being alerted by the whistleblowers. The suit claims that as a result of the fraud, theU.S.government has been cheated out of millions of dollars paid by the CDC to buy the vaccine for its immunization program. It says the agency, and other government bodies, were wrongly deprived of the knowledge they needed to make proper use of taxpayer money and sound medical decisions. (The CDC predicted several years ago that mumps would be eradicated in theUnited Statesby 2010, an outcome predicated on the idea that the vaccine worked.)The suit describes Merck’s allegedly no-holds-barred effort to protect its market position. “Merck set out to conduct testing of its mumps vaccine that would support its original efficacy finding. In performing this testing, Merck’s objective was to report efficacy of 95 percent or higher regardless of the vaccine’s true efficacy. The only way Merck could accomplish this was through manipulating its testing procedures and falsifying the test results. … Krahling and Wlochowski participated on the Merck team that conducted this testing and witnessed firsthand the fraud in which Merck engaged to reach its desired results. Merck internally referred to the testing as Protocol 007.”The suit says testing began in 1999, led by Senior Investigator David Krah and his second-in-command, Mary Yagodich. Merck’s Executive Director of Vaccine Research, Alan Shaw, approved the testing methodology, the suit says. Krahling said he complained about the fraud to Emilio Emini, Vice President of Merck’s Vaccine Research Division, and brought “actual testing samples and plaque counting sheets to demonstrate to Emini the fraudulent data that Krah was directing. Emini agreed that Krah had falsified the data,” the suit said, but defended some aspects of the work.