One of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world Merck is challenging thousands of lawsuits over its infamous painkiller Vioxx. Although the company chose specific defensive strategy in the court based on scientific explanations of heart attacks and medical reasons for their occurrence, August decision of the state court in Texas resulted in a $253 million verdict against the pharmaceutical corporation. From the personal viewpoint, the decision of the jury of Texas court is justified and there are several reasons.
Although Merck company had developed a proud image of the most transparent and ethical company in the pharmaceutical industry, which has been admitted by numerous investigators and analytics (Blumenthal, 14), the company must take responsibility for adverse consequences caused with its preparation. From the email corporate correspondence and negotiations with FDA, it is evident that company has been aware and most probably allegedly covered up defects with its Vioxx. During several studies conducted by Merck to test Vioxx, including a large study of Vioxx in rheumatoid arthritis patients, it became that Vioxx is dangerous: 0.
5% of those patients taking Vioxx had heart attacks, compared with 0. 1% who took naproxen, and this makes significant difference in terms of customers’ safety. In 2000, Edward Scolnick, Merck's research chief at the time, indicated in one of his emails that it is a “shame” that a study connected Vioxx with increased heart attacks and strokes, “but it is a low incidence and it is mechanism-based as we worried it was” (Tesoriero, A1). Moreover, study commissioned by FDA found more than 140,000 excess cases of serious coronary heart disease among US population caused primarily with Vioxx.
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Being aware of the danger, Merck chose not to pull the painkiller out of the market and instead initiated another round of negotiations with FDA. Only when in July 2001 Carol Ernst filed first Vioxx-related lawsuit against Merck, the issue became public. However, despite having the preparation-related litigation, Merck continued selling and marketing Vioxx, intensifying the situation. Only when the Vioxx turmoil became a really pressing public issue, Merck company removed its product from the market in September 2004.
Although inculpatory evidence of Merck regarding Vioxx-related heart-attacks and strokes lays in the hands of lawyers of victims, on the global scope the guilt and responsibility American fourth largest pharmaceutical company should account is evident.
Robin Goldwyn Blumenthal “Merck: More Side Effects”. Barron's. New York, N. Y. , 85(35), 2005 Heather Won Tesoriero “Side Effects: Merck Loss Jolts Drug Giant, Industry; In Landmark Vioxx Case, Jury Tuned Out Science”, Wall Street Journal, New
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