Merck’s Vioxx Defence Strategy Prevents Plaintiffs From Getting Compensation: The case of Vioxx litigations demonstrates that consumers of inadequately tested FDA-approved medicines that prove lethal, are no better off than in the pre-FDA snake-oil era.
The New York Times reports that despite Merck’s withdrawal of Vioxx from the market due to its causing cardiovascular damage, Merck’s legal defense strategy is working: The strategy’s successes, from the view of Merck and its shareholders, are clear:
“In fact, none of the 45,000 people who have sued Merck, contending that they or their loved ones suffered heart attacks or strokes after taking Vioxx, have received payments from the company. The lawsuits continue, for now in a state of legal limbo, with little prospect of resolution. In combating the litigation, Merck has made an aggressive, and so far successful, bet that forcing plaintiffs to trial will reduce the number of Vioxx lawsuits and, ultimately, its liability. Promising to contest every case, Merck has spent more than $1 billion over the last three years in legal fees. It has refused, at least publicly, to consider even the possibility of an overall settlement to resolve all the lawsuits at once.”
Plaintiff’s lawyers accuse Merck of manipulating the legal system “to deprive justice to tens of thousands of people whose cases can never be heard.”
Glaxo and all the the other drug companies take exactly the same action – they’re not interested in protecting patients, all they’re interested in is their profits.
If drug companies ever do have to make payouts, then they will make the payout conditional upon signing a gagging order – to keep the truth hidden – they buy our silence.