Two former Merck & Co Inc scientists accusing
the drugmaker of falsifying tests of its exclusive mumps vaccine
said in a court filing on Monday that Merck is refusing to
respond to questions about the efficacy of the vaccine.
Attorneys at Constantine Cannon, who represent the
scientists, asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Lynne Sitarski of the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania to compel Merck to respond to
their discovery request, which asks the company to give the
efficacy of the vaccine as a percentage.
Instead of answering the question, the letter said, Merck
has been consistently evasive, using "cut-and-paste" answers
saying it cannot run a new clinical trial to determine the
current efficacy, and providing only data from 50 years ago.
"Merck should not be permitted to raise as one of its
principal defenses that its vaccine has a high efficacy, which
is accurately represented on the product's label, but then
refuse to answer what it claims that efficacy actually is," the
A representative of Merck could not immediately be reached
The two scientists, Stephen Krahling and Joan Wlochowski,
filed their whistleblower lawsuit in 2010 claiming Merck, the
only company licensed by the Food and Drug Administration to
sell a mumps vaccine in the United States, skewed tests of the
vaccine by adding animal antibodies to blood samples.
As a result, they said, Merck was able to produce test
results showing that the vaccine was 95 percent effective, even
though more accurate tests would have shown a lower success
rate. The plaintiffs said these false results kept competitors
from trying to produce their own mumps vaccines, since they were
unable to match the effectiveness Merck claimed.
In 2012, Alabama-based Chatom Primary Care and two
individual doctors, all purchasers of the vaccine, filed a
proposed antitrust class action based on the allegations in the
whistleblower suit. The two suits are now being coordinated
before U.S. District Judge C. Darnell Jones and Magistrate Judge
The case is United States ex rel Krahling et al v. Merck &
Co Inc, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania,
For whistleblowers: Gordon Schnell of Constantine Cannon
For Merck: Lisa Dykstra of Morgan Lewis & Bockius