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Evidentiary rulings in first Madison County Vioxx trial

Merck will not be allowed to argue or introduce evidence:

  • that a verdict for the plaintiff will adversely impact pharmaceutical companies' ability to develop new medications

  • that the case may cause an increase in the cost of pharmaceutical drugs to the public

  • that several key Merck employees in charge of Vioxx took the drug

  • that a large percentage of the medical community would like Vioxx placed back on the market

  • that the Food and Drug Administration's approval of Vioxx on four separate occasions means that Merck met its standard of care and fulfilled its duty to warn

  • that it could not change its Vioxx label to include warnings of heart risks without approval from the FDA

(Steve Gonzalez, "Vioxx lawyers strategize over evidence in Madison County", Madison County Record, Feb. 22). There's certainly an argument to leave out the public policy arguments in the case, but one hopes that it is being applied uniformly: nearly every plaintiffs' closing argument I've read about asks jurors to send a message to drug companies about the importance of drug safety, and there seems an imbalance if defendants are not allowed to make their own arguments on that score.

Seventy-three potential jurors are filling out a 22-page questionnaire in the case of Schwaller v. Merck (No. 05-L-000687). 52-year-old Patricia Schwaller had a fatal heart attack in August 2003, and her husband blames it on her alleged 20 months of Vioxx usage. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.