A jury of 5 men and 3 woman in Atlantic City, New Jersey, found that Merck and Co., Inc. was responsible for causing the heart attack of an Idaho man. Merck knew that Vioxx was a dangerous drug and ordered it withdrawn from the worldwide marketplace on September 30, 2004. The jury found that Merck knew that Vioxx was a dangerous drug and hid that fact from doctors and the general public. This jury also found that Merck’s conduct was so egegious that they awarded an additional 27 million dollars as punitive damages to punish Merck for their wrongful conduct.
The jury awarded 18 million dollars to U.S. Marine Corps veteran Mike Humeston and 2 million dollars to his wife. Merck’s attorneys, as has been their habit and custom, continue to try to put a positive spin on each of their court losses. They cannot escape the fact that five separate juries have now found against Merck, all attributing the heart attacks from taking Vioxx. There have been estimates by respected scientists and doctors that Vioxx was responsible for somewhere in the range of 100,000 to 150,000 heart attacks and strokes. Merck has offered a number of different excuses, none of which juries are buying. The clear and unequivocal fact is the Vioxx did cause a great number of heart attacks and strokes and Merck is playing hardball, refusing to accept personal responsibility for what they have done. There are 15,000 individual cases pending in New Jersey and Merck has promised to try each one, one at time. In the meantime, the reputation of this once extremely well-regarded company has nose-dived, where it is now regarded near the bottom of all major drug manufacturers. At some point, the Merck Board of Directors should have a serious meeting with their attorneys to see if their “try every case” strategy makes any sense for the long term health and well being of the company.