According to the article, they were looking for potential patients who were using a competitor.  The Vioxx stories just keep on coming.  If they had an EMR system though, by today’s standards, they would have all potentially fired for snooping so this had to be where paper records were still used.  BD 

AUSTRALIAN marketing staff from pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co paid specialist nurses half-a-million dollars to "hunt" through patient records for potential candidates for their blockbuster anti-arthritis drug Vioxx.image

The Federal Court was told the company aimed to identify 100 patients of each targeted general practitioner who were not taking Vioxx and could be recommended to take up the drug for their condition. Known as the "bone and joint care program", the marketing initiative employed "bone care" nurses -- via an independent third party -- to go through patients' records with permission of their general practitioner.

A class action heard yesterday that nurses interviewed these patients, some of whom were over 60 and had osteoarthritis, about their condition and options for pain management. The plaintiff also said yesterday in the court in Melbourne that Merck gave pharmacists incentives to recommend Vioxx to patients who were on other drugs such as paracetamol.

Australian Penny Dobson, who was Merck's marketing director for Vioxx and other drugs from 2001 to 2003, confirmed to the court yesterday that the $500,000 bone and joint care program was implemented.

Nurses paid to scout for Vioxx drug firm | The Australian

Related Reading:

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Merck Agrees to Pay $4.85 Billion for Vioxx Claims - New York Times


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