Friday, April 13, 2007
Article in the Wall Street Journal -- Merck's Vioxx Troubles May Ebb With Ruling Poised to Aid Defense, by Heather Won Tesoriero. Here's an excerpt:
A ruling from a Texas judge coming as soon as Monday is expected to undercut the legal foundation for all 1,000 Vioxx cases brought against Merck & Co. by Texas plaintiffs, providing a potentially significant boon to Merck's defense efforts.
The judge has informed both sides in a state-court Vioxx case that he will dismiss it based on a recently finalized Food and Drug Administration rule, according to a person familiar with the matter. He then told attorneys involved in some of the other 1,000 Vioxx cases in Texas state courts that his ruling could affect the whole group.
Judge Wilson said he was granting Merck's motion to dismiss Ms. Ledbetter's case, citing an FDA policy rule issued in February 2006. That rule says the agency's approval process trumps state law in how manufacturers of health-care products must warn consumers about their potential risks. It hasn't been clear how or if the rule would apply to Vioxx, which was approved long before 2006, and this case could prove to be an important test.
The vast majority of pharmaceutical product-liability cases hinge on whether or not a drug maker adequately warned of a drug's risks -- as have most of the Vioxx trials to date, of which Merck has won 10 and lost five.