An article on the MSN Web site has information about the beginning of the federal Vioxx trial in Houston. Here is an excerpt from the article, speaking of the plaintiff’s lawyer, Andy Birchfield:
Birchfield, who spoke for less than an hour, noted that Merck likes to cherry pick the 18-month hallmark to demonstrate that the drug could not have caused problems in patients who took it for a shorter time. But he told jurors a study showed Vioxx can cause problems after just seven days.
He said that Merck knew about Vioxx’s safety problems before it was launched in 1999. Birchfield quoted from internal e-mails, including some from Merck scientists who raised warning flags about its cardiovascular risks, to support his assertions.
Merck made a “premeditated, financial decision” not to warn patients about the drug’s risks because it wanted the revenue the former $2.5 billion seller would generate, and longed to beat Pfizer Inc.’s competing drug Celebrex in the marketplace, he said.
Birchfield also said Irvin had 60 percent blockage in an artery, but that wouldn’t have been enough to cause a heart attack.
Birchfield conceded that Irvin wasn’t examined before taking Vioxx; he first used a sample given to him by a friend and then asked his son-in-law, a physician, to write him a prescription. The attorney said an exam wouldn’t have made any difference because a doctor would have given him Vioxx if asked.