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Spanish scientist cleared

Scientific freedom of speech seen as winner in suit between drug firm and pharmacologist

Xavier Bosch(xbosch@teleline.es)

David has beaten Goliath again, this time in Spain. Joan-Ramon Laporte, the Spanish pharmacologist who was taken to court on January 16 by the giant Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD) for an article in which he commented on the irregularities surrounding the company's VIGOR trial has been cleared of wrongdoing.

MSD sued Laporte because his article, “The supposed advantages of celecoxib and rofecoxib: a scientific fraud,” allegedly contained a series of “falsities, biased interpretations of third parties' opinions, and extremely serious false accusations against rofecoxib.”

The article was published in the Yellow Bulletin (Butlleti Groc) newsletter, whose editor-in-chief is Laporte himself. Its publisher, the Catalan Institute of Pharmacology, was also sued by MSD. In his article, Laporte criticized the VIGOR study for allegedly minimizing the cardiovascular side effects of rofecoxib.

But the judge in the case, Victoria Salcedo Ruiz, on January 22 cleared both Laporte and the Catalan Institute of...

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