In a newly posted commentary on Medical Progress Today, a sister site to this one, also sponsored by the Manhattan Institute and focusing on medical policy issues, Dr. Gilbert L. Ross discusses the Vioxx litigation. Ross is the Executive and Medical Director for The American Council on Science and Health, and he is highly critical of the litigation:
[L]ast week, a new report revealed that a Merck vaccine against the virus that causes almost all cervical cancer was completely effective in a 4-year trial among over two-thousand patients.
But will this cancer vaccine - or other lifesaving drugs in the Merck pipeline - ever see the light of day? Not if "Trial Lawyers, Inc." has its way. Tort lawyers seasoned in the asbestos and silicone breast implant wars are filling the airwaves with solicitations for poor folks injured by Vioxx to come in (or just phone!) for a Free Consultation to Protect Your Rights. Those hoping to win the big-bucks lottery for a piece of Merck would get to share their multi-billion dollar damages with their attorney - sometimes 50-50, after expenses - while Merck goes bottom-up. Plaintiffs' lawyers just held a big conference in Las Vegas to organize most efficiently for the kill, and possibly to divvy up the spoils, just like they did with litigation against the tobacco industry.
Merck is not Enron or R.J. Reynolds, plaintiffs' bar rhetoric to the contrary. In addition to its new foray into cancer prevention, Merck is the only pharmaceutical company still making vaccines for the national children's vaccine stockpile - all the other makers of kids' vaccines have abandoned this vital market due to burdensome regulations and economic disincentives.
Ross's view is best summed up by his title: "Don�t Kill The Pharmaceutical Golden Goose." I encourage all to read the full article.