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Home Industry News Merck cleared of Vioxx charges

Merck cleared of Vioxx charges

4th November 2005

US drugs giant Merck has been cleared of consumer fraud allegations by a jury in New Jersey, following a second lawsuit about the painkiller and arthritis treatment Vioxx.

The pharmaceutical company has been found not liable in the test case, after the court in Atlantic City ruled that it had adequately warned doctors about the possible risks of heart attacks and strokes in prescribing Vioxx to patients.

The jury deliberated for just over a day at the end of the seven-week trial before deciding that Merck did not misrepresent, suppress or conceal the potential side effects of Vioxx when marketing the drug.

The plaintiff, a 60-year-old postal worker, Frederick “Mike” Humeston, claimed that the painkiller had caused a blood clot that led him to suffer a heart attack in 2001.

Merck shares rose sharply after the verdict. The company saw its stock plummet when it withdrew Vioxx from sale last year following medical research into the potential risks associated with the drug.

Kenneth Frazier, senior vice-president and general counsel for Merck, said in a statement: “Merck is satisfied with the jury verdict. There will be other Vioxx trials and we will vigorously defend them one by one over the coming years.”

However, Merck is still facing 6,400 lawsuits from people prescribed Vioxx and is appealing against a court decision made in August. The company was ordered by a jury in Texas to pay $253 million (??140 million), later reduced to $26 million, after a jury ruled that Vioxx had contributed to a 59-year-old patient’s death.

Litigation involving 2,900 of the cases that have been consolidated in a federal court will begin on November 28th in Houston, Texas.

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