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Thursday, August 17th 2006

Merck Stock For Sale!

After months of continually shouting, “No Whammy, No Whammy, No Whammy, Stop!” with general success, Merck finally had a killer day today. Not that some of the previous days have been all picnics.

Not only were they found liable in a case in New Orleans, but a previous victory in New Jersey had the verdict thrown out. A correction from the NEJM has led to the ‘only long term use leads to heart damage’ claim being nullified, and has led to the jury verdict for Merck being thrown out.

(I’ll have more on the Barnett v. Merck case as I read about it)

Not everything is so clear as the some media would make it seem however. From In The Pipeline,

[T]he data don’t really add much support to anyone’s definitive statements about Vioxx risks before 18 months. The 95% band only widens out to a plus or minus 1% difference in cumulative incidence rates at a time between 18 and 24 months.

By the 36-month point, the last in the study, the 95% confidence band is between a 1% and a 4.5% risk difference for Vioxx therapy compared to placebo.

He goes on to mention how this is a blow to Merck because it destroys there claim of risk after only 18 months. A cornerstone of their defense to say the least.

Still, there is a lot of debate if a risk exists immediatley upon taking Vioxx. What has been retracted, even by Merck itself, is the ‘no risk before 18 months’ claim. It basically centers around the statistical analysis they did, which turned out to have some errors in it. The correction however doesn’t show a statistically releavant increased risk before 18 months, it only provides for the possibility that there might be one.

And a New Jersey judge wants a jury to decipher this and see if it implies Merck should’ve known of a risk before 18 months? That is a joke.

I’m sure one Merck isn’t laughing at though.