Court Losses Piling Up for Merck

The New England Journal of Medicine's recent actions in clearing the air concerning the short-term risks of Vioxx had a profound effect on Merck's setbacks in federal court late last week.

One New Jersey court ruling favoring Merck late last year was struck down by Judge Carol Higbee on the grounds the company neglected to present the real evidence to the Journal that would've shown Vioxx's heart risks occur after short- and long-tern use.

Merck also took it on the chin for a $51 million decision from a federal court in New Orleans, less than a day after deliberating the case of retired FBI agent Gerald Barnett who suffered a heart attack after taking the toxic COX-2 inhibitor for three years.

Legal experts believe the double whammy Merck experienced last week could be a sign of hard times to come for America's third-largest drugmaker, as some believe the New Jersey drugmaker could face as many as 40,000 lawsuits (although not nearly the 100,000 first predicted). Investor groups are a bit more optimistic, however, estimating Merck's total liability when it's all said and done could amount to a mere $10 billion.

Despite all the dirty laundry aired in the courts and promises to do better, however, don't believe for a minute you can rely on any drug company to look out for your health. When it comes to treating health conditions like pain, I urge you to seek out safer, healthier and less expensive options to treat it.

USA Today August 18, 2006

New York Times August 18, 2006 Registration Required

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