An article at StarNewsOnline summarizes what most plaintiff lawyers have already realized — that Merck’s Vioxx strategy is working, so far. Exerts from the article:
Merck is gaining ground in the Vioxx litigation at least for the moment. On Wednesday, a California jury ruled that Merck’s painkiller Vioxx did not cause the heart attack that Stewart Grossberg, who is now 71, had in September 2001. The case was Merck’s second consecutive victory, following a win for the company in New Jersey last month.
Lawyers on both sides agree that Merck’s victories, and its stated strategy of trying every case rather than settling any, are discouraging plaintiffs with weaker claims. Already, lawyers for plaintiffs have recently withdrawn more than 300 federal suits, mainly after finding that their clients could not produce adequate evidence that they took the drug.
Merck withdrew Vioxx in September 2004, after a clinical trial showed that it caused heart attacks and strokes. Since then, Merck has insisted that it behaved legally and that it will contest every suit brought by people who claim that they were injured after taking Vioxx.
Merck’s tough stance, and its recent triumphs, have forced plaintiffs’ lawyers to accept that Vioxx suits will be riskier and more difficult than cases over the diet drug combination phen-fen…
As a result, by Sept. 30, when the two-year statute of limitations for filing suits will expire in many states, Merck will probably face about 40,000 plaintiffs, fewer than the 100,000 that some analysts and lawyers initially expected.
Still, both sides say it is far too early to declare a winner in the litigation. Even with the postponements and dismissals, Merck faces another eight trials scheduled before year-end.