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Another win in Merck’s column

Helen Palmer Jul 14, 2006
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Another win in Merck’s column

Helen Palmer Jul 14, 2006
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TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: Another Vioxx trial is over and again the company that made the painkiller won. Merck has prevailed in more than half the suits so far, but there are many more to go. Helen Palmer reports from the Health Desk at WGBH.


HELEN PALMER: A jury in Atlantic City decided that Vioxx was not responsible for the heart attack a 68-year-old New Jersey woman suffered in 2004.

The jury found that, though Merck didn’t warn patients of the cardiac dangers of VIOXX, the company didn’t market the drug dishonestly.

Merck’s now won four of the seven suits to come to trial, but legal experts say it’s too soon to crow.

BENJAMIN ZIPURSKY: I don’t think Merck or its investors should get all that excited about this victory, because if they couldn’t win this case then that would really look serious.

Fordham Law School’s Benjamin Zipursky says this case was very weak, as the plaintiff had many risk factors for a heart attack besides taking Vioxx.

Analysts say they don’t believe this victory alters the risks for the company. About 16,000 suits have been filed in connection with Vioxx, and strong cases are still likely to win, so Merck could face billions of dollars of liability.

In Boston, I’m Helen Palmer for Marketplace.

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