Federal Vioxx trial preparations completed
After Merck strongly protested against trying only those cases in New Jersey in which the victims had taken the drug for more than 18 months, the company suffered a setback when Judge Carol Higbee overruled them. Now, in another major setback to the company, Judge Eldon Fallon has decided that the plaintiff can argue that even short-term, rare or intermittent use of the drug can be lethal. The federal Vioxx trial is scheduled to begin after Thanksgiving.
One the major points of debate in Vioxx litigation is if use of the drug for less than 18 months is as lethal as many plaintiffs argue. It was on this very point that Frederick Mike Humeston lost his case in the second trial in Atlantic City. In the federal trial, though, the Judge Fallon has said directed the attorney can argue that Vioxx can cause a heart attack even if used for less than 18 months. However, to make the playing field level, he has also allowed the company to argue otherwise.
"In essence, both the Plaintiff and Merck rely on the same material," U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon wrote in his ruling. "They simply interpret it differently and reach contrary conclusions. The Court's role as gate-keeper is to scrutinize the methodology, not the conclusions."
Recommended article: Merck dealing with mounting number of lawsuits