While Merck continues to deny any wrongdoing in personal injuries inflicted on 140,000 Americans from Vioxx and countless many in other countries (estimates not available), it is now becoming clear that Merck may have known as early as 2000 that Vioxx was killing people. Rather than doing something about it, Merck continued to market the drug aggressively to people who were least likely to be benefit and were most likely to be hurt by it. Merck did not announce a Vioxx recall until September 30, 2004.
According to The New York Times, when Merck scientists established a relationship between Vioxx and death of a woman, the company listed the cause of death as "unknown" in reports submitted to the FDA and in published studies. The newspaper now has evidence (internal Merck emails) provided to it by a Vioxx attorney and this evidence will be presented in courts.
Not only does Merck continue to deny that Vioxx killed arthritis patients, it has been aggressively attacking Vioxx victims, including accusing them of lying. But this disclosure actually proves that it was Merck that was hiding the facts. Such evidence will prove critical in Vioxx class action lawsuits scheduled for trial in coming months. It is expected that Merck's Vioxx liabilities could be as much as $38 billion and Vioxx litigation may force the firm into bankruptcy.
Since the recall of Vioxx, Merck continues to suffer financially. After Bextra recall, Merck's competitor Pfizer is also hurting financially. The only Cox-2 drug that remains on the market is Celebrex which now carries a black box warning. There have been repeated calls for a Celebrex recall due to safety concerns.