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Global pharmaceutical giant Merck has been accused of recruiting doctors to sign off on company-produced medical studies and then passing them off as "independent." In addition, it appears the company may have produced a journal that has the appearance of a peer-reviewed publication but portrays Merck drugs favorably. These allegations represent a new round of criticism aimed at the beleaguered drug maker.

Merck is still facing the fallout of its recalled arthritis medication Vioxx. The drug has been blamed for causing heart problems in patients prior to being pulled from the market. Merck allegedly spent thousands of dollars on each of several meetings with doctors and medical specialists at expensive restaurants and hotels in order to promote the drug. The company has also been accused of paying ghostwriters to publish articles that downplayed the risks of Vioxx. Merck has agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle the majority of U.S. claims relating to Vioxx.

In Michigan, a victim of a defective drug cannot sue the manufacturer if the drug was approved by the FDA. Michigan is the only state that offers this level of protection to pharmaceutical companies. The only exception to this draconian rule is if the manufacturer withheld or misrepresented information to the FDA or bribes an official to secure approval of the drug.

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