Alex Berenson, writing in Sunday's New York Times, comments on the rising tide of drug lawsuits-- aimed at AstraZeneca's antipsychotic Seroquel, Johnson & Johnson's birth control patch Ortho-Evra, Wyeth's Prempro, a hormone treatment for women, and Merck's osteoporosis drug Fosamax. As Berenson observes, these drugs have annual sales of nearly $7 billion. It's not hard to imagine why the plaintiffs' bar is so eager to tap into this rich vein. And they have an addition to their arsenal, now: 'In each case, plaintiffs' lawyers are trying, at least rhetorically, to link their suits to the Vioxx litigation..."
Berenson also notes that while drug lawsuits don't necessarily spell financial doom for a drugmaker, they are damaging nonetheless, econmically and otherwise. He cites the PR catastrophe that Merck experienced when one of its intenral emails-- in which then-chief scientist Edward M. Skolnick derogated the FDA-- was leaked to the press. This is to say nothing of the damage done to a company's stock prices over the course of such a suit.
Looks like it's going to be a long summer.