Merck loses $4.5m in Vioxx case10th April 2006
On 6th April, Merck shares fell 4% when a New Jersey jury ordered the company to pay $4.5m to a man who blamed the maker of Vioxx for his heart attack.
John McDarby alleged that Merck downplayed the risks of Vioxx, allowing him to continue taking the painkiller for more than 18 months, which helped trigger his attack.
However,Thomas Cona, 60, who also sued the company received nothing. The jury decided Vioxx was not the cause of his illness because there were several other factors involved.
The first verdict is the second Merck has lost, while it has won two earlier cases, one after a mistrial.
Although Merck has faced trials before, this trial was important because it was the first to involve plaintiffs who used Vioxx for 18 months or longer. Merck's own studies had indicated that after 18 months use, patients were placed at a significantly increased risk.
The Financial Times says that Merck now faces a wave of litigation and potentially billions of dollars in liability after it withdrew Vioxx, a painkiller known as a cox-2 inhibitor, in late 2004 due to increased heart attack and stroke risks. About 10,000 Vioxx lawsuits have been filed again Merck in the US, and that number is sure to rise.
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