14 December 2005

stupid is as stupid does

Oh this is just killing me, sheer stupidity and carelessness may really nail Merck (from Forbes.com) on this Vioxx thing:
Last week, editors at The New England Journal of Medicine said that before Merck (nyse: MRK - news - people ) submitted a major study to the Journal for publication in 2000, information linking Vioxx to an increased risk of heart attacks was deleted from the document.
In an statement posted on the NEJM's Web site, the editors said that during a review of the study, they "determined from a computer diskette that [relevant data was] deleted from the VIGOR manuscript two days before it was initially submitted to the Journal."

According to Dr. Gregory Curfman, an executive editor at the Journal, the NEJM determined data had been deleted by turning on a feature in Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) Word called "Track Changes," which keeps a record of what's been added and removed to a document, and allows users to add notes to the text. It's commonly used by groups of people who are sharing a document, since it allows them to make changes to each other's work, without permanently deleting or altering the original document.
Ooops. Idiots. When you open the doc, the "track changes/deco review" toolbar pops up right in front of you. I use a template for proposals to clients because I don't need crap like this happening. Now and then I edit a doc I created for one company to send to another, and paste the text to a new doc, just to make sure. Dorks.
I have it out for Merck, though. Their world headquarters is near my parents' house, and their executives would fly in on a helicopter every morning when I was in grad school and wake me up... and I have a hard time in the morning as it is...