As was feared by many Vioxx victims, Merck is adopting delaying tactics in Vioxx lawsuits. The first of the cases to go to trial next week is that of Carol Ernst, whos husband Robert Ernst, reportedly died after taking Vioxx. In a motion filed by Merck, according to Theresa Agovino, an AP Business Writer, the company is asking that the trial be delayed by 60 days since it can not get a fair trial in the state of Texas. As reported earlier, the State of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has sued Merck for knowing selling a dangerous drug and committing fraud under state laws.
In another lawsuit, that of Cheryl Rogers, that was scheduled to go to trial earlier, there have been a series of delays. A conservative think tank, aligned with the drug industry, has asked for delay in that case. Merck is using the same analogy used by the think tank – that the attorneys in Vioxx lawsuits are also helping the Texas AG in suing Merck, and thus, there is a conflict of interest.
Merck’s legal case, which was always believed to be extremely weak, has been further weakened after a highly damaging document was leaked to the media. The Merck internal memo essentially implicates the firm. The memo clearly indicates that Merck scientists knew in 2000 that Vioxx was simply too dangerous a drug as it increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
While Merck may be successful in preventing that specific document from being used against it in the trial, it has definitely helped lawyers who only need to prove that Merck knew the side effects of Merck but chose to do nothing about it for business reasons.