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January 27, 2006

Merck's Legal Strategy To Be Tested

Legal Strategy for Vioxx to Test Merck

Merck & Co. has vowed to fight every suit claiming injuries because of the painkiller Vioxx.  Eleven cases are scheduled for trial in the next five months, which will test the viability of the company's scorched-earth policy.  Merck is facing more than 9,200 lawsuits involving 18,250 plaintiff groups.  Merck pulled Vioxx off the market in September of 2004 because of a study showing that the drug was asociated with an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes after eighteen months of use.  Publically, at least, Merck has ruled out the possibility of a mass settlement, noting that studies do not demonstrate increased risk until 18 months of use, and that many plaintiffs have other risk factors for cardiac problems.  The aggressive strategy could help to discourage marginal suits, even if the company changes its mind later. Outside lawyers say that the real test will come in February when two judges who are presiding over more than 90 percent will begin more of the trials.  United States District Judge Eldon E. Fallon in New Orleanbs has scheduled three trials in as many months.  He has said that after the trials he hopes to convene broad settlement talks.  By Brooke A. Masters, Washington Post Staff Writer.  Link

January 27, 2006 | Permalink

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