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Vioxx litigation update

  • Plaintiffs in New Jersey asked to postpone two cases scheduled for June 5; Judge Higbee agreed as to only one of them, citing unspecified discovery issues regarding pharmaceutical records. Whether this is code for the records not being consistent with the individual plaintiff's claims of long-term usage is unknown, but we've already seen multiple cases where usage was likely exaggerated. Twelve other cases in several other courts are scheduled in 2006 as of April 27.
  • Preliminary results from the year-long follow-up to APPROVe were released, indicating a statistically insignificant increased risk of heart attack after Vioxx use ceases. The lack of statistical significance didn't stop the press and the plaintiffs' bar from trumpeting this as bad news for Merck, and in the sense that judges allow statistically insignificant evidence into trial, Merck could potentially be on the hook for every heart attack that takes place for years to come if plaintiffs can find an expert willing to assert Vioxx's effects are permanent without supporting evidence.
  • Merck is finally getting its side of the story out there, with a new website about Vioxx litigation, learnaboutvioxx.com (via Lattman).



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.