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Merck Vioxx study was for marketing: researchers

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A 1999 clinical study that Merck & Co Inc (MRK.N) said was done to test side effects of its now-withdrawn painkiller Vioxx was done primarily to support a marketing campaign before its launch, according to researchers.

The real aim of the study, called ADVANTAGE, was to promote prescription of the new medicine when it became available -- a so-called "seeding" project -- U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

"Documentary evidence shows that ADVANTAGE is an example of marketing framed as science," they wrote in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Kevin Hill, a psychiatrist at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., and colleagues said the findings showed how studies masquerading as clinical science could be used to bolster marketing plans.

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