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August 17, 2006

Merck Takes One-Two Vioxx Punch

Merck & Co. was today stung by two major setbacks in the litigation against the company over Vioxx, its painkiller now withdrawn from the market.  A New Orleans jury found that Merck failed to adequately warn of risks associated with the drug and awarded $51 million to a man who suffered a heart attack after taking Vioxx for two years.  In the other important development, a New Jersey judge ruled that evidence uncovered since a November verdict in favor of the company warrants a new trial for the plaintiff in that case who blamed Vioxx for a heart attack that he suffered in 2001.  Together, these developments seem to indicate a greater liability potential for Merck and therefore greater pressure on the company to begin settling at least some of the approximately 14,000 Vioxx cases already filed.  Merck, however, says that it will continue to try every case.  One investment analysist estimates that Merck will spend about $1 billion per year for the next ten years on this litigation but also reckons that Merck can easily absorb that cost.  See Mary Foster's story for the Associated Press.

JDP

August 17, 2006 | Permalink

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