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Elaine Mandel
Elaine Mandel
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Merck Releases Self-Serving Report about Vioxx

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In response to the 30,000 lawsuits filed against Merck by people injured after taking Vioxx, drug maker Merck spent $21 million dollars to hire a law firm to do an “investigation” that found Merck did nothing wrong in connection with its testing, distributing and marketing of Vioxx.

In 2004 drug maker Merck took its hugely popular anti-inflammatory medicine Vioxx off the market after clinical trials and studies showed the drug could cause heart attacks and strokes. Since that time, over 30,000 people sued Merck for injuries caused by taking Vioxx. Eight of those cases have gone to trial, and in four of those cases, the juries decided that punitive damages, money meant to punish Merck for failing to publicize the risks of its medicine, were appropriate.
Merck has spent millions of dollars defending these lawsuits, claiming it did nothing wrong and didn’t know its drug was dangerous. In fact, Merck spent $21 million to hire a New York law firm to do an “investigation.” Merck is now publicizing that this “investigation” it paid for found Merck didn’t do anything wrong. Of course, the lawyers who did this investigation didn’t interview prominent scientists who criticized Merck. No surprise, then, that the report was favorable to Merck.

Mark Lanier, a lawyer for plaintiffs, said the report was a whitewash that contained no new information about Merck’s actions and had been prepared primarily to bolster the company’s defense in the civil suits.

In the report’s main body, there appear to be no company documents, e-mail messages or other evidence that has not already been publicly disclosed in the two years since Merck stopped selling Vioxx.

Nor did investigators involved in preparing the report interview Dr. Steven E. Nissen, Dr. Eric J. Topol or other prominent scientists who have criticized Merck, Mr. Martin said.

Merck stopped selling Vioxx in September 2004 after a clinical trial showed the drug could cause heart attacks and strokes. More than 30,000 people have sued the company, contending that Vioxx caused heart problems.

Kiesel Boucher Larson LLP is local counsel in Southern California for a group of plaintiff’s lawyers representing victims harmed by taking Vioxx. This office has filed several cases, and more cases are in the works. If you or a loved one took Vioxx and has had problems, such as stroke or heart conditions, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible to preserve your rights.