Health and finance media outlets are abuzz this week after a jury in New Jersey found that in the case of a Mr. Humeston of Idaho, Merck was intentionally and recklessly negligent in failing to provide adequate warning of the risks of taking Vioxx in the drug's package inserts. The jury also found that Vioxx contributed to his heart attack even though Merck argued that Mr. Humeston has other significant risk factors like high cholesterol and a sedentary lifestyle.
This is the second time Mr. Humeston has sued Merck. His first suit failed; however, new clinical evidence of the dangers of Vioxx were published last spring shortly after the first trial. The new evidence prompted the New Jersey court to order a new trial. He suffered a heart attack after taking Vioxx off and on for about 2 months for knee pain. Merck has maintained that the risk of cardiovascular episodes occurs only after a long period of time taking the drug, around 18 months. But several newer studies have found the time frame for increased risks to be much shorter, with risk increasing within four months of taking the drug and remaining for about a year after the patient stops taking Vioxx.
The jury awarded $47.5 million to an Idaho man and his wife. The jury gave the couple $20 million in compensatory damages and later awarded $27.5 million in punitive damages. Merck has vowed to appeal the verdict and damages. If the damages are upheld, this will be the largest award of damages in a Vioxx case so far. Last August, a New Orleans judge vacated a damage award of $51 million dollars and ordered a new trial, calling the amount of damages "grossly excessive."
There are over 7,000 outstanding lawsuits against Merck related to Vioxx. Merck has publicly vowed to litigate each one and has the billions of dollars it will take to avoid settling each case. Experts have estimated Merck's potential liabilities due to Vioxx at over $5 billion. As of the results of this case, Merck has won 9 suits and lost 5.
Have you taken Vioxx and did you experience any side effects or a cardiovascular event? What do you think about the Vioxx lawsuits and jury awards of damages? Share your thoughts in a SharePost or leave a message below.
Published On: March 15, 2007