Merck sued over mumps vaccine research

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, June 25, 2012
Contact: Vaccine Safety Council of Minnesota – Wayne Rohde 651-705-5030 / 405-973-7049

Merck sued over mumps vaccine research

Virologists claim “improper testing and data falsification”;
$$ cost to U.S. for fraud could be in hundreds of millions

ST. PAUL, MINN. – Two virologists have filed a federal lawsuit against pharmaceutical giant Merck, claiming the corporation exaggerated the effectiveness of its mumps vaccine. Merck has held a monopoly on mumps vaccine sales to the federal government for more than four decades.

The plaintiffs, or “Relators,” are former Merck employees Stephen A. Krahling and Joan A. Wlochowski. They filed a civil action April 27 in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, citing violations of the Federal False Claims Act. They demand a jury trial.

According to the 55-page filing, the virologists “witnessed firsthand the improper testing and data falsification in which Merck engaged to conceal what Merck knew about the vaccine’s diminished efficacy. In fact, their Merck superiors and senior Merck management pressured them to participate in the fraud and subsequent cover-up when Relators objected to and tried to stop it.”

  • “Merck predicted the resurgence of outbreaks given the diminished effectiveness of its mumps vaccine. … Merck knows that the vaccine’s efficacy is significantly less than that now. … Merck set out to conduct testing of its mumps vaccine that would support its original efficacy finding. … The only way Merck could accomplish this was through manipulating its testing procedures and falsifying the test results.”
  • “As a result of Merck’s fraudulent scheme, the United States has over the last decade paid Merck hundreds of millions of dollars for a vaccine that does not provide the efficacy Merck claims it provides and does not provide the public with adequate immunization.”

Merck scientists are accused of rigging a study using animal antibodies to boost seroconversion levels, unethically counting those as human antibodies. Since 1971 Merck has claimed its mumps vaccine efficacy rate was 95 percent, but that experiment boosted results to an unrealistic 100%.

“If found guilty, Merck defrauded tens of millions of people out of hundreds of millions of dollars, failed to protect our nation’s health, and destroyed our trust,” said Patti Carroll of the Vaccine Safety Council of Minnesota. “The U.S. Senate and journalists should be investigating Merck.”

The plaintiffs have requested that the Court “enter judgment against Merck in an amount equal to three times the damages suffered by the United States due to Merck’s unlawful conduct.”


Questions journalists should ask:

1. How many vaccinated people have had mumps (e.g. Iowa 2006, New York/New Jersey 2009)?

2. Why aren’t these reports of falsified data and vaccine failure being policed by the FDA?

3. Why did Merck pull individual measles, mumps and rubella vaccines off the market after public outcry about MMR adverse reactions increased consumer demand for individual shots?

4. Why do former Merck employees have far more legal recourse than vaccine consumers?

5. Does the government/industry revolving door inhibit free market competition of better vendors?

6. If Merck is found guilty, are other vaccine manufacturing divisions there and at other companies operating under a similarly dishonest corporate culture to enhance profitmaking?