December 12, 2007
Merck Recalls Child Vaccine
An article on cnn.com -- Merck recalls kids' vaccine -- discusses Merck's recall of 1.2 million doses of child Hib vaccine, because of contamination risks and possibility of infection. The article also summarizes Merck's status in light of the proposed Vioxx settlement:
While the company took a black eye with its September 2004 withdrawal of the painkiller Vioxx due to increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, Merck has been performing well recently. On Tuesday, it gave an upbeat assessment in its annual briefing for analysts.
Five weeks ago, Merck reached a deal to settle up to 50,000 Vioxx lawsuits for $4.85 billion, an amount expected to save the company millions in trial costs.
Its stock price has more than recovered from its post-Vioxx slump, a two-year-old restructuring plan is going well and profits are up. For example, Merck posted a 62 percent increase in its third-quarter profit as revenues jumped by double digits
USA-China Product Safety Pact
Article in the Wall Street Journal -- Product-Safety Pacts Put Greater Burden on Beijing, by Jason Leow and Jane Zhang. Here's an excerpt:
The Bush administration signed product-safety agreements with China that place a greater burden on Beijing to regulate exports of food, animal feed, drugs and medical devices.
The agreements require exporters of those products to register with the Chinese government, which will issue certificates stating they meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards. The agreements are aimed at closing some loopholes that let Chinese companies export unsafe food, drugs and other products.
Mike Leavitt, secretary of health and human services, signed the two agreements yesterday with Chinese officials in Beijing as part of three days of trade talks with China. "The agreements satisfy our firm principle that any country that desires to produce goods for American consumers must do so in accordance with American standards of quality and safety," he said in a statement.
The agreements cover such products as olives and canned mushrooms, pet food, raw materials for processed foods, farm-raised fish, drugs and medical devices. Drugs covered include: human-growth hormone; oseltamivir, an antiviral drug; and gentamicin sulfate, an antibiotic. The limited list of covered products is an initial step, U.S. officials said, suggesting Washington wants to gain confidence in the Chinese system before expanding the program.
December 11, 2007
Litigation Funding in the UK
This article in the thelawyer.com tells that story of UK firms that are looking to obtain funding for litigation through hedge funds. (H/t Drug and Device Blog). This development is of a piece, it seems to me, with the proposal to develop class actions in the UK and Europe. It poses interesting questions about the extent to which quasi-private ex post regulation should be encouraged in society and raises the concern of the separation of ownership from control of lawsuits that has been the focus of so many judicial opinions and class action scholarship.
December 9, 2007
Perspectives on Asbestos Litigation Symposium
As I previously mentioned, Southwestern Law School is hosting a symposium entitled, "Perspectives on Asbestos Litigation," on Friday, January 18, 2008. Here is a copy of the brochure Download lr_perspectiveinasbestoslitigation.pdf, which lists the exceptional speakers and panels that will occur throughout the day. Hope you can join us. We're overjoyed at the remarkable speakers who have agreed to participate.