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Saturday, August 20th 2005

Vioxx Verdict

This award will be reduced for Texas’ punitive awards cap, although the story doesn’t make it clear how much of the award was based on future earnings and how much was punitive. There are more than 4,000 Vioxx cases pending and this one was apparently, by some opinions, not a particularly strong one. Apparently there were significant causation issues, and yet Merck was still found liable.

I don’t think I know enough to make a legitimate comment on this case. There’s a reason causation is so difficult in many drug cases, because that’s the way biochemistry actually works. As the FDA has made it clear Vioxx has a place in the marketplace, and although your chance of a heart attack versus a placebo is significant (like 15x greater or something) your chances of suffering such are still ‘low’, at least by my standards. I’m sure that for those who feel they’ve lost a family member to a Vioxx related heart problem that this is little consolation.