The Merck-Vioxx case is a big pharma personal injury case with deaths. Although the drug manufacturer Merck never admitted fault, they were forced to settle some 35,000 claims to the tune of almost $5 billion.
In 2004, leading drug manufacturer Merck fell from grace when its prescription pain-relief medication was recalled worldwide. Investigations revealed that not only did Merck conceal the associated heart attack risks, but also schemed with federal drug regulators to keep it a secret as long as possible. Though the drug was recalled when the public discovered it caused heart attacks, strokes, and death, issues regarding the dangers of Vioxx continue today.
Vioxx side effects
Also sold under the names Ceoxx and Ceeoxx, Vioxx was linked to severe health problems early on. Within months after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Vioxx, Merck’s own study found that the drug increased risk of heart attack four-fold when compared to naproxen. However, Merck later refuted the findings and claimed they were unreliable. In 2002, Merck and the FDA finally agreed to include cardiovascular risk information on the drug’s label.
In 2003, sales of Vioxx reached $2.5 billion worldwide. Merck then launched a second study to review the drug’s effect on colon polyps, and was forced to disclose the full health effects. On September 30, 2004, Merck voluntarily withdrew Vioxx from the market. In the next few months, a United States Senate Finance Committee convened to question the relationship between Merck and the FDA. An FDA scientist named Dr. David Graham testified that FDA officials had attempted to block his research findings on Vioxx’s propensity to cause heart attacks.
Within a year of the recall, lawsuits against Merck emerged throughout the world. In 2005, a multidistrict litigation was established in New Orleans to secure better outcome for plaintiffs. However, many more plaintiffs filed individual lawsuits nationwide. In 2007, Merck agreed to settle all the claims, without admitting fault. To pay the nearly 35,000 claims, Merck set up a $4.85 billion settlement fund.
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