Two whistleblower scientists say Merck falsified data on mumps vaccine

Two former Merck scientists have filed a whistleblower lawsuit saying that the company falsified data about its mumps vaccine and its actual effectiveness rate. The former virologists charged the drug maker knew its vaccine was less effective than the purported 95% level, and alleged senior management was aware and also oversaw testing that concealed the actual effectiveness.

The scientists, Stephen Krahling and Joan Wlochowski, alleged that by deliberately concealing information about efficacy, Merck precluded potential rivals from the market. This was based on a presumption that the U.S. government would not create additional contracts for new vaccine products while the Merck vaccine had a 95% efficacy rate, according to court documents.

Merck says the lawsuit is without merit. The drug maker believes the information provided was appropriate, given the way the requests were framed and the complex scientific concepts involved.  We’ll soon file a legal response with the court explaining these points in greater detail.

The mumps vaccine makes Merck a lot of money. Sales reached $721 million last year. The federal government, declined to join the lawsuit but it is not yet clear why.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers but not these whistleblowers.