Home Politics Religion Media Biz Society Tech Travel Books Intl. Autos Automobiles
                        Aviation   Pharma   About Us   Feedback   Links

Merck responsible for Vioxx death: Jury



19th August, 2005: The Texas jury, which was deliberating Vioxx case held the drug maker Merck responsible for the death of a man and awarded the man’s widow $253.5 million.

Robert C. Ernst was allegedly died on 2001 after consuming Merck’s pain killer pill Vioxx. The jury, after a week long hearing, reached a conclusion that Merck should pay his widow, Carol, $24.5 million for mental anguish and economic losses. Jurors also said she should be awarded an additional $229 million in punitive damages after finding that Merck acted recklessly in selling Vioxx despite having knowledge of the drug's heart risks.

This was the first of a series of lawsuits filed against Merck seeking compensations for using Vioxx. More than 4,000 Vioxx-related cases have already been filed, and another 20,000 to 100,000 more filings are expected, according to lawyers. 

State trials are scheduled to begin in the next few months in New Jersey and possibly California and Alabama, with the first federal trial planned for November in New Orleans. Lawyers for both sides say the suits will probably be handled individually rather than as class actions.

Merck shares fell $2.35, or 7.7 percent, to close at $28.06 after the company reiterated that it will fight every Vioxx lawsuit in court rather than settle cases in a statement issued following the verdict. The drop erased about $5 billion from Merck's market capitalization.

Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., has not yet set aside any money to cover its Vioxx liabilities, but it has put aside $675 million to cover legal expenses related to its defense.

More than 20 million people had taken Vioxx before the company took the drug off the market last September after a clinical trial indicated that Vioxx increased the risk of heart attacks or strokes in patients taking it for longer than 18 months. The pain drug had annual sales of $2.5 billion until it was withdrawn.

But critics had been saying for years that Vioxx posed safety risks. And during the trial, documents and e-mail messages from Merck scientists disclosed discussions of Vioxx's potential heart risks as early as 1997, more than two years before the company began selling the drug. 

Similar concerns have shadowed Bextra and Celebrex, two other similar painkillers made by Pfizer. Pfizer, the world's largest drug company, stopped selling Bextra in April; Celebrex remains on the market but now has a prominent warning of its heart dangers.

Merck's defense in the case was centered on the fact that Ernst's autopsy found that he died of an arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat. Clinical trials have not linked Vioxx to arrhythmias. For that reason, many lawyers had predicted Ernest’s lawyer might have a difficult time winning the case. But the lawyer argued that Mr. Ernst's fatal arrhythmia was actually produced by a heart attack that killed him so quickly it did not produce muscle damage visible in the autopsy. It was Vioxx that caused a blood clot that produced the heart attack. 


Pharma News Headlines

Cancer News

Cardiac News


Pharma industry news

Diseases - Alzheimer's, Parkisonson's and Obesity

Contraception and Abortion News


Anti fungal terbinafine launched in Europe: Actavis

HIV entry blocking drug data encouraging: Progenics

Allegra generic to be launched in US

Long-acting pain drug data positive: Pain Therapeutics

New kidney cancer drug seeks EU nod

Inhaled insulin may get US FDA clearance

A vaccine against fungus is on way

Enzyme stops progression of HIV in survivors, confirms study

Aclasta found faster-acting in Paget's disease treatment

Beta blocker can start therapy in heart failure: Merck

Halobetasol generic launched in US

Anemia drug darbepoetin's late-stage studies begin: Amgen

Cholesterol generic gets marketing nod in US: Par

Aricept for severe Alzheimer’s disease too: Eisai

Bone regeneration trials begin in US:Mesoblast

New dye to detect early Alzheimer's

Breast forming gene discovered

Thyroid drug to be supplied by IVAX in US

Rituxan, cancer drug can treat rheumatoid arthritis

Yasminelle, low-dose oral contraceptive approved in the Netherlands

Fluarix, anti-flu shot by Glaxo approved

Increlex, drug to treat `abnormally short’ kids approved in US

Anti-HIV drugs prices cut: Gilead

US FDA approves Takeda’s drug combo for type 2 diabetes

Novartis’ drug for breast cancer recurrence to be given priority review in US

US puts off decision on contraceptive pill again

Shire’s ADHD drug Adderall back on list in Canada

WHO calls for emergency action to halt TB in Africa

Some of the Vioxx suits may be settled: Merck

Nasdaq delists Able on bankruptcy filing

Hospira ships ceftriaxone generics to US

Renovis stops sciatica drug studies

Merck sets up generic arm Genpharm in US

Morning after pills still not within easy reach in US

New cancer combo therapy results positive:OXiGENE

Aceon approved for heart disease treatment in US

Cell Therapeutics to seek approval for lung cancer therapy in US and Europe

Anti-depressant Seroxat defended by GSK against new findings

Vioxx verdict: Merck’s defeat to trigger thousands of lawsuits from US, UK

Aspirin stops colon cancer, but may trigger bleeding

New blood test method approved in US

Skin disease drug turns into anti-tumor therapy for cancer

Step-by-Step instructions for dealing with Asthma Attacks

Potential Alzheimer's Disease drugs under investigation

New Molecule may help obese lose weight

Paxil (Paroxetine) may heighten suicide risks, finds study

"Breast cancer chances higher due to fried chips"

Safety alert on Gambro Dasco’s Prisma renal system

Merck responsible for Vioxx death: Jury

Heart disease deaths more among New Yorkers

Pfizer to offer drugs risk/benefit summary to consumers 

Merck lied to public on Vioxx: lawyer tells jurors

Novartis acquires rights of kidney dialysis drug from SeBo

J&J's Concerta approved treatment of ADHD in teenagers in Canada

US FDA stalls Roche’ Accutane use in pregnancy

Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly remove insulin products from Australia

British drug supply chain safety questioned after another fake Lipitor find

Wyeth starts support programme for Effexor patients

P&G’s Actonel with Calcium approved for osteoporosis

Pozen gets patent on pain management product

Genmab studies new drug for rheumatoid arthritis

Painkillers may increase blood pressure: study

Nektar buys out Aerogen for $32 m

Predix records positive data on anxiety drug

Insmed files against Increlex approval

Hepatitis A vaccine for kids approved in US

Psoriasis drug data positive: Cytochroma

Novo Nordisk’s 24-hour acting insulin Levemir gets US FDA okay

US FDA approves Teva's generic for osteoporosis 


Home Politics Religion Media Biz Society Tech Travel Books Intl. Autos Automobiles
                        Aviation   Pharma   About Us   Feedback   Links

Latest updates    Contact Us - Feedback    About Us