While Merck CEO gloats over the fact that they have not paid a single penny to any of the families of 60,000 Americans who have died after taking Vioxx, the company’s chief counsel, Ken Frazier, put it in the starkest terms. â€œHeart attacks are, unfortunately, a leading cause of death in the United States and have multiple causes,â€ he said. In other words, with two out of three Americans being either obese/overweight (and suffering from all kinds of problems related to cholesterol, diabestes, heart diseases, etc.), it is simply a piece of cake to argue that the victim “would have suffered a heart attack whether he was taking Vioxx or notâ€ as Merck puts it.
The latest Vioxx victim to lose his case is Charles Laron “Ron” Mason of Salt Lake County, Utah, who is a typical American described above. To further complicate his case, he did not take the deadly painkiller a few days prior to his heart attack. While many independent experts have argued that Vioxx can kill even if taken once and the dangers may last for years, in this particular case, the revelation came to the surprise of everyone – including his own attorney – in the court.
A decision is soon expected in the cases on trial in California brought by Rudolph Arrigale and Lawrence Appel. The next federal lawsuit by Anthony Dedrick of Waynesboro, Tennesse is scheduled to go to trial in Fallon’s court after Thanksgiving.
Merck in a lot of trouble
While Merck executives continue their attack on Vioxx victims, the company is getting into trouble for cheating on its taxes. A penalty of over $5 billion is expected. In a related development, Canadian Vioxx victims who had sued Merck won a victory when a judge in Quebec ruled that the lawsuit should proceed forward despite company’s wish to try one case at a time. Plus, the company still faces over 20,000 lawsuits in the US alone.