Is A Mistrial Good News For Merck?

A sole juror voting in favor of the plaintiff deadlocked a Houston jury, forcing a mistrial yesterday in the first federal court case debating the toxic effects of Vioxx. Some might say that stalemate ought to be good news to mega-drugmaker Merck, but not according to Wall Street and experts.

Legal experts believed Merck would have a much easier time in federal court with its more business-friendly environment and stricter rules, not to mention the case focused on the short-term use of the COX-2 inhibitor.

But, because Merck couldn't win what some considered to be "an easy case" may not bode well for a retrial and future cases involving long-term use of Vioxx, said one local expert. Another believed future verdicts could hinge on last week's bombshell in the New England Journal of Medicine that Merck knowingly reported false results of a 2000 study to make Vioxx appear safer, when it was anything but safe.

Wall Street is certainly wary: Although their current stock price has rebounded a tiny bit in the past day, Merck's share value has dropped 40 percent over the past two years.

Just a reminder, using over-the-counter painkillers can be just as harmful to your body and health in the long term. If you're looking for safer ways to treat your pain without the risks, I urge you to review my seven safe alternatives.

Houston Chronicle December 13, 2005

USA Today December 13, 2005

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