On May 29, 2008, a Texas appeals court reversed a $26 million verdict previously made against Merck & Co., the manufacturer of Vioxx. It found no evidence to support the idea that Robert Ernst’s death in 2001 had been caused by Vioxx. In 2005, his widow had won a $253 million verdict but the Texas punitive damage caps had cut it down to $26 million. Now his widow is apparently not entitled to any award.
Meanwhile, a $13.9 million award made in favor of John McDarby in 2006 was reduced by a New Jersey appeals court to $4.5 million. That court voided the $9 million punitive damages award because it found that the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act overrides New Jersey’s Product Liability Act. McDarby had suffered a heart attack after taking Vioxx, but had survived it. He died in 2007 from his ongoing heart problems.
Merck has now won eleven victories and sustained three losses in Vioxx trials which reached verdicts. There are appeals pending in some cases.
What is Vioxx?
Vioxx is a painkiller with a side effect of causing heart troubles, and Merck withdrew it from the market in September, 2004 when its own study showed that Vioxx doubles the risk of stroke or heart attack.
Research and FDA Approval
Pharmaceutical companies are giant corporations with multi-billion dollar budgets. When they develop a new drug it takes many years of research and testing to get it properly formulated and then approved by the FDA and marketed. This is hugely expensive for them and when it works out well, everyone benefits – patients who now have an effective and safe drug for their health problem, the drug company which can now sell the drug and recoup the enormous expenses it paid to get it on the market, and doctors who can now prescribe confidently to reduce pain and improve health.
But when something goes wrong in this process, patients, doctors and drug companies are all hurt. As large as they are, drug companies can be driven into bankruptcy by too many multi-million dollar judgments against them. This happened to Dow Corning in 1995 over its silicone gel breast implants, despite the fact that no connection was found in the subsequent 14 years of research between silicone gel and any disease whatever. It took several years for that company to pay its debts and reorganize.
Have You Been Harmed by a Drug?
Individual people can so easily get lost in the tussles between big corporations, big government, and big law firms. However, here at Robert W. Kerpsack Co., we watch out for you, the patient – you, the victim. We will take your side if you have been harmed by someone else’s negligence. Please contact us if you are worried about your situation and wonder whether you might have a legal claim for negligence or medical malpractice. We will be glad to give you a free consultation.