More legal trouble ahead for Merck in Vioxx litigation
The victory for Merck in the lawsuit brought by Mike Humeston may have given a temporary relief but more trouble lies ahead for the company. Humeston had taken Vioxx only for a short period of time and he could not prove that he was taking the drug at the time of his heart attack. Plus, he survived the attack as well. In that sense, his case was a weak one. But as many as 60,000 Americans have actually died after taking Vioxx and overall 140,000 personal injuries are attributed to the painkiller by the FDA.
Legal experts believe that while Merck's victory may mean that those victims that took the drug only for a short period of time and did not suffer any serious injury are unlikely to win their lawsuits, nothing else has changed. The trial in Atlantic City did bring out many other aspects of Merck's unethical behavior in marketing of Vioxx.
The next trial begins later this month in the lawsuit filed by Evelyn Irvin Plunkett who is suing the company for the death of her husband, Richard Irvin Jr., a man in his early 50s who had a sudden heart attack just one month after taking Vioxx. In that sense her case is similar to that of Carol Ernst who won a quarter billion award against the company. In any case, Merck is already overwhelmed with other thousands of lawsuits.