As reported by the Associated Press today, one of the plaintiffs in the current New Jersey Vioxx trial acknowledged that medical records don’t support his claim that he took the drug for two years or more. Excerpts from the wire report:
Thomas Cona, 59, of Cherry Hill, also said he continued taking the drug for more than a year after his June 9, 2003, heart attack, even though he said in a court filing associated with his case that he stopped three months later.
The duration of his Vioxx use is key in the product liability case. Merck pulled the blockbuster arthritis drug off the market in September 2004 after a study showed it doubled the risk of heart attacks and strokes after 18 months’ use.
Unlike other Vioxx users whose cases have come to trial, Cona and fellow plaintiff John McDarby, 77, of Park Ridge, both allege long-term use.
After being prescribed the drug in August 2001, Cona said he filled prescriptions for 90-day supplies of it twice and a 30-day supply once, but said he augmented that with free samples, which he’d received shopping bags full of from one of his doctors.
“You will agree with me that the medical records do not demonstrate that you took Vioxx for 22 months?” Merck lawyer Mike Brock asked him on cross-examination.
“That is correct. The records will not,” said Cona.
On a “plaintiffs fact sheet” filed by his lawyers, Cona said he took Vioxx through September 2003, but in court he said he took it until Merck voluntarily pulled it off the market in September 2004.
Lanier told jurors his law firm may have mistakenly written 2003 in the filing.
Outside court, he said Cona’s doctors will testify later about the free samples they gave him, which Lanier said will bridge the gap between the seven months’ worth of prescriptions Cona filled and the three years he said he took the drug.
Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, faces about 9,650 Vioxx-related suits in federal and state courts. To date, the company has won two trials and lost one, and another is ongoing in Rio Grande City, Texas.