Two weeks into the first-ever Vioxx related lawsuit trial have been disastrous for Merck. The New York Times actually says that “Merck Looks Battered” and that “Merck appears to be in a deep hole.” They couldn’t have put it better. Not only has Merck been able to defend itself, Mark Lanier, the attorney for plaintiff Carol Ernst, has done a remarkable job so far exposing all the lies that Merck has told over the years to doctors, the FDA, and arthritis patients.
On the other hand, Lanier has successfully presented the case of a widow who was simple enough not to realize the nature of Merck’s misleading ads for Vioxx, and suggested to her now dead husband, Robert Ernst, that he speak to his doctor about Vioxx – exactly as the Merck ad had asked her to do. She now feels terribly guilty for playing a role in her husband’s death.
Merck suffered another setback when it lost its appeal to let Maria Araneta, the coroner, present her testimony to the jury. And then Dr. Alan S. Nies and Dr. Nancy Santanello – two Merck representatives, did a terrible job of defending the company. In addition to that, Lanier relied heavily on Merck document to build his case.
While Merck will have its day in court during next 2-3 weeks, at this point it is clear that Vioxx victims might actually be able to defeat a drug giant.
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