“When Half a Million Americans Died and Nobody Noticed”

In TAC “When Half a Million Americans Died and Nobody Noticed” by y Ron Unz
Cockburn’s question referred to my examination of the American mortality figures surrounding the heavily-promoted anti-pain drug Vioxx, released by Merck in 1999 and pulled from the market in 2004 after a published FDA study indicated it seemed to double the risk of heart attacks and strokes and had probably been responsible for at least tens of thousands of American deaths. I had noted that the major shifts in total American mortality bracketed by Vioxx’s introduction and recall—shifts which were concentrated in exactly those age-groups taking Vioxx and were due to the aforementioned heart attacks and strokes—may actually point to a total death-toll an order-of-magnitude greater than that initial scientific estimate.

The lack of apparent public interest in these matters merely reflects the degree to which most Americans these days define their reality by what they see on the television or film screen, which also informs them what matters and what does not. Thus, the episodic foibles of a Lindsay Lohan or a Britney Spears carry enormous national importance because these are widely discussed on television, while the premature deaths of perhaps half a million American citizens from an aspirin-substitute does not. And nearly all our elected officials and other national leaders seem just as totally dominated by such television-produced reality. This is not a sign of a healthy society nor one likely to long survive in its current form.
I would not be sure about Unz's supposition, he is a typical Silicon Valley libertarian nutbag, but it is interesting.

As I recall Merck paid out $5 billion on about 3K cases, it was estimated about 30K associated deaths officially, so perhaps about 10 9-11s in the four years the drug was on the market, that this in itself was not a far bigger news story says a lot.

Merck, by the way, is rated as a notably ethical company in the industry. The lesson taken by other more sleekit companies from the Vioxx case was never, ever fess up to stuff like this just keep on litigating.
That article seems to be about quite a few different subjects mixed together. Not knocking it as such but to me it read like Hunter S Thompson during the final or very early hours of a 48 hour jaw-grinding, gurning writing fest.
Yes strange chap Unz, even by Californian standards of normalcy.

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