An autopsy found that Richard "Dicky" Irvin, Jr., whose death will be the subject of the first federal Vioxx trial in two weeks, had "moderate to severe" heart disease, with blockage of 60%-70% in the artery where his fatal blood clot occurred. Jere Beasley, the attorney for Irvin's widow, Evelyn Irvin Plunkett, scoffs at this fact: "He had no more plaque build-up than any other 53-year-old man in America." (And, after all, heart attacks are completely unknown amongst American 53-year-olds.) Because Irvin had been taking Vioxx for 23 days (after getting a 30-day prescription from his son-in-law without an examination), the plaintiff wishes to attribute the heart attack to Merck rather than to, say, Irvin's 230-pound weight, fast-food diet, 149/90 blood pressure, sedentary lifestyle, and family history of heart problems. (Fox News, "Next Trial to Focus on Limited Vioxx Use", Nov. 16; Bloomberg, "Merck's Next Vioxx Trial May Test Heart Risk of Short-Term Use", Nov. 16).
Jere Beasley: all 53-year-old men have heart disease