Monday, December 12, 2005

Mistrial in Houston Vioxx Case

The first of possibly 7,000 trials against Merck & Co ended in a mistrial this morning. The jury had been deliberating since Thursday and could not come to a unanimous decision on whether Vioxx had lead to the death of Richard Irvin Jr.

The unexpected outcome leaves Merck with a 1-and-1 record in state trials and an undecided in the first of four federal trials overseen by Fallon. The company faces about 7,000 pending state and federal lawsuits and its liability has been estimated at up to $50 billion.

In the first case, a Texas state jury slapped Merck with a $253 million verdict for negligence and for failing to warn of Vioxx dangers in the 2001 death of a Texas man who took the drug for eight months. In November jurors in Merck's home state of New Jersey absolved Merck of liability, leaving nothing for an Idaho man who survived a heart attack after taking the drug intermittently for two months. (AP)

This is good news for Merck is that they may have shown they have an edge in federal courts (which tend to be more business friendly). The bad news is this is not a clear win for the corporation that has already lost one trial.

Watch for the markets to rally for the pharmaceutical company a little. Merck has been hit hard the past few weeks because of patents expirations, and any sign of life will help. However, with 7,000 complaints filed and no verdict today, expect this to be one chapter in a very long story.


At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a bunch of BS, did anyone read the article in the New England Journal of Medicine that issued an editorial which said at least two authors of a Vioxx study called VIGOR knew at least two weeks before the paper was submitted and 4 1/2 months before it was published that there were three heart attacks not included in the article's data?

The absence of the data led to incorrect calculations and conclusions, the editorial said.

If the jury had the above information, does anyone think that the jury would have been hung? Moreover, why would the defense rest without calling a cardiologist? timing? it seemed that they rested just prior to the article in teh New England Journal of Medicine. Merk should be held liable!


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