ASEF Luncheon, October 14, 2011

Garret FitzGerald will discuss "The Vioxx Affair, or Academia vs Big Pharm".

Garret FitzGerald is Chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Director of the Institute for Translational Medicine & Therapeutics. Research done by FitzGerald suggested as early as 1997 that COX-2 inhibiting drugs, like Vioxx and Celebrex, increase the risk of cardiovascular problems. Dr. FitzGerald believed that COX-2 inhibitors block the production of a substance called prostacyclin, which leads to blood vessel constriction and clotting.

It was the first red flag for the drug. FitzGerald took the results to Merck before publishing them. This led to an acrimonious discussion. FitzGerald had to fight off requests to tone down his conclusion and remove references to work by other researchers that supported his findings. Merck did follow up the findings, but FitzGerald was not invited to help. When he suggested that Merck and a competitor examine the risks, he got the same answer from both: "Thank you and goodbye".

Dr. FitzGerald is the prolific author of over 400 scientific papers. In 2005, he was the recipient of the RDS (Royal Dublin Society) Boyle Medal, which is Ireland's premier science award.

The luncheon is at 12:00 noon on Friday, October 14, 2011, in the Hourglass Room of the University Club.