Directors at Merck are investigating the company's actions prior to its voluntary withdrawal of Vioxx from the market in September.
Merck's board of directors appointed a special committee comprised of seven members to closely examine the company's actions and respond to shareholder litigation, the company said in a statement yesterday.
William Bowen, president of The Andrew Mellon Foundation, will chair the special committee, which has hired the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton to conduct the review.
John Martin, a lawyer at Debevoise & Plimpton leading the inquiry, told the New York Times the committee wanted an independent examination of Merck's actions. Lawyers will review internal documents and interview company executives, he said.
"Our job is to conduct an investigation and not to defend the company," Martin told the Times.
Merck's chief executive, Raymond Gilmartin said the committee would have the "complete" cooperation of Merck management and full resources to make its assessment.