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One possible explanation for the split verdict

As Jim notes, we won't know for sure why the jury split on the question of causation until after they are interviewed, but one possibility is that they disbelieved the claims of Cona and Mark Lanier that the reason Cona's pharmacy records only showed three prescriptions for seven months' worth of Vioxx was that he had received fifteen months worth of free samples from his doctor.

Thomas Cona, 59, confirmed in New Jersey Superior Court that he had been 20 to 30 pounds overweight, had an elevated cholesterol level for which he was prescribed medication, and a history of sleep apnea, which can deprive the body of oxygen.

Under questioning from Merck attorney Mike Brock, Cona also disclosed he had drunk a small quantity of a high-caffeine drink by mistake on the day of his heart attack in June 2003, and had filled a prescription for a cholesterol-lowering drug only once.

(Reuters, Mar. 10). The Reuters story says that "almost 10,000 plaintiffs have sued Merck over Vioxx", but this is less than half the total: there are almost 10,000 lawsuits, but many lawsuits have multiple plaintiffs (and plaintiff groups).



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.