Monday, December 3, 2007
Today’s National Law Journal reports "Vioxx Pact Isn’t the End—It’s a Beginning," (subscription required) and notes the number of foreign suits in Germany, Israel, and London. Here’s an excerpt:
While touted AS a virtual end to Vioxx litigation, the recent $4.85 billion settlement struck by Merck & Co. Inc. to resolve products liability claims does not get the pharmaceutical giant out of the woods. In reality, a number of lawsuits are still pending against Merck in both state and federal courts around the country. Other pending Vioxx actions include: suits brought by attorneys general in four states to recover Medicaid funds they paid for the drug; third-payor lawsuits filed by insurance companies; securities class actions brought against the directors on behalf of shareholders; and stock loss class actions on behalf of Merck's employees and unions. Houston-based plaintiffs' attorney Mark Lanier -- who has tried three major Vioxx cases in the United States -- noted that there are also foreign cases being filed in Germany, Israel and London. Lanier, of the W. Mark Lanier Law Firm in Houston, is a consultant on the German cases and estimates there could be several thousand.
If that wasn't enough, the settlement, which includes attorney fees, must be approved by 85% of stroke and heart attack victims -- and that's hardly a done deal.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Article on cnn.com -- Glaxo's Avandia may increase bone thinning. Here's an excerpt:
The popular diabetes drug marketed as Avandia may increase bone thinning, a discovery that could help explain why diabetics can have an increased risk of fractures.
New research raises the possibility that long-term treatment with rosiglitazone, as Avandia is also called, could lead to osteoporosis. The diabetes drug is used to improve response to insulin.
While bones seem solid, they constantly are being broken down and rebuilt by the body. Researchers found that in mice, the drug increased the activity of the cells that degrade bones, according to a report in this week's online issue of Nature Medicine.
Avandia recently was labeled with warnings about the risk of heart failure in some patients. GlaxoSmithKline (Charts), which markets the drug, already has acknowledged that a study found a higher risk of fractures among women who take the drug. But this report is the first to attempt to explain the link between the drug and fractures.
The Federalist Society has posted video for the panel, "Is Overlawerying Overtaking Democracy?," from the 2007 Federalist Society Annual National Lawyers Convention. The panel, which discusses tort litigation, includes Dean David Schizer (Columbia), Professors Theodore Eisenberg (Cornell) and David Vladeck (Georgetown), Walter Olson (Manhattan Institute), and Victor Schwartz (Shook, Hardy).
Yesterday, the restyled federal rules of civil procedure took effect. After a long drafting process by the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules with plenty of opportunity for public comment, the Supreme Court approved the rules in April 2007. With Congress's tacit approval by inaction, the amendments became effective on December 1. I think it's a change for the better, but I may be the only proceduralist who thinks so. At the Civil Procedure Prof Blog (which earlier linked to some commentaries on the restyled rules), Rory Ryan gives it a seasonal "bah, humbug." At PrawfsBlawg, Howard Wasserman wishes everyone a Happy Restyling Day, but the best he can muster is that he thinks "the changes were not worth the candle, but the results will not be particularly tragic." What a lot of fuss there's been in the past year, with academics trying to gather signatures to petition Congress to step in because, horror of horrors, the new language may not leave meanings completely unchanged in the long run. Where were all these critics for the past few years when the restyling project was underway? To be fair, a number of academics -- notably a group assembled by Steve Burbank and Greg Joseph to examine the rules for unintended substantive impact, and Ed Hartnett in his article Against (Mere) Restyling -- offered serious and timely comments. In any event, the new rules have arrived, with their modernized language and more clearly organized subparts, and I think that lawyers will learn to appreciate them.