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Location: Houston, Texas, United States

My name is David Stone. I live in Houston, Texas. I am a 30-something single white male. I am an Orthodox Christian and am a member of an English-language parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Should Merck have settled?

In this article from Smartmoney.com the question is asked: Why didn't Merck just settle this case?

The author points out that:

"The series of internal Merck documents casting doubt on the safety of Vioxx, which have been leaking into the media for months, put Merck in the vulnerable position of appearing to have ignored, suppressed or even covered up data that put patients' lives at risk. Even had Merck acted in accord with the highest medical standards then prevailing, the contest between a grieving widow and a giant pharmaceutical company earning billions while seeming to discount evidence of heart attacks was never going to be one Merck could expect to win."

The article goes on to detail the missteps of Merck's Defense Team including:

"Right off the bat, a Merck doctor conceded on the witness stand that she couldn't entirely eliminate the possibility that a heart attack had preceded and perhaps even caused the victim's irregular heartbeat. She deserves to be commended for such candor, but how could Merck have gone to trial knowing that its own employee would deliver a blow to its central defense? There was worse to come. The most persuasive support for Merck's defense was the coroner's report ascribing the victim's death to arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat. But Merck's legal team appears never to have interviewed the coroner, surely one of the most obvious and important potential witnesses. It's no excuse that she had since moved to the Middle East. It was plaintiff's lawyer Lanier who had the common sense and persistence to track her down in Abu Dhabi, an effort that earned him what will surely be a fee of many millions. Undercutting her own death certificate, the coroner returned to Texas and readily testified that she believed the victim had suffered a heart attack. It's no wonder the jury spent less than an hour resolving this critical issue in favor of the grieving widow and against Merck. "

It concludes with an observation that is becoming increasingly common among market analysts:
"Surely it's time for Merck to rethink its strategy of fighting all 4,000-plus pending Vioxx suits on a case-by-case basis, not to mention the additional thousands that will no doubt be inspired by this verdict, and find a way to settle most of them. "


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