Merck will get its chance to prove why Vioxx did not cause a heart attack in Frederick “Mike” Humeston later this week as plaintiff’s attorney, Chris Seeger, wraps up his case. At this point in the trial, it is not very clear if Seeger has convincingly shown the link between Vioxx and Humeston’s heart attack. While Humeston did not have most attributes of a person likley to have a heart attack, his mother did die from one though, only when she was 75. Generally speaking, if a parent has a heart attack prior to 65, the children are more susceptible.
Merck hid Vioxx risks
Seeger and his team did do a great job though of establishing how ruthless Merck was in selling Vioxx with absolute disregard for human life. With the help of experts like Dr. Benedict Lucchesi and Dr. Richard Kronmal, it was clear that Merck knew that people were dying after taking Vioxx but instead of responding the tragic consequences, it increased its marketing efforts emphasizing the safety of the drug. It also successfully stopped critics of the drug by leveraging its network in the industry and in the academic world. A series of emails that were presented during the cross-examination of Merck executives like Ed Scolnick and David Anstice also showed that Merck aggressively fought the FDA to keep the side effects information to appear on the label so that doctors would never know.
Vioxx risks go beyond heart attacks and strokes
Another major controversy that is developing is the link between Vioxx and death of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The data has been around for a while but the company has not done much to make doctors aware of it. However, Richard Kronmal, the biostatistician who crunched the numbers, is ready to publish his findings. This will literally create a new group of Vioxx victims who did not know that their death was caused by the drug.