A motion was filed today for sanctions against Merck for violating a protective order and disclosing personal and confidential information to the news media related to Cheryl Rogers and her deceased husband, Howard. Mrs. Rogers is the plaintiff in the first Vioxx lawsuit scheduled to go to trial on May 23.
According to attorney Jere Beasley, whose firm Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles in Montgomery, Alabama, represents Ms. Rogers: “Merck provided depositions of Mrs. Rogers and Dr. William Clancy, who treated her husband, to local and nation press on April 12, in violation of the court’s protective order. In fact, one reporter had the documents on this date apparently before it was even filed in court.
In addition, the motion cites Merck being in violation of the provisions of the HIPPA by disclosing personal medical information pertaining to Howard Brad Rogers.
That day, Merck had filed a motion to dismiss the Rogers case in the Circuit Court of Clay County in Ashland, Alabama and at the same time, sought to discredit Mrs. Rogers by circulating proprietary information concerning the case.
Mr. Beasley’s motion on behalf of Mrs. Rogers requests that the court vacate its protective order as it relates to documents produced by Merck. He is asking the court to allow for public disclosure by plaintiffs’ attorneys of all Merck documents.
During the Advantage trial (completed in 2000) eight people taking Vioxx suffered heart attacks and sudden cardiac death, compared with just one taking naproxen, according to data released by the F.D.A. earlier this year. The difference was statistically significant, but Merck never disclosed the data that way. In fact, according to previously undisclosed Merck records, including e mail messages between the top Merck officials, it appears that Merck went out of its way to hide these facts. In 2000, amid rising concerns that its painkiller Vioxx posed heart risks, Merck overruled one of its own scientists after he suggested that a patient in a clinical trial had probably died of a heart attack. “Merck intentionally misled the public and they medical community by withholding information relating to known dangers associated with taking Vioxx,” Beasley says.
“Releasing Merck’s documents would serve the public interest by exposing its wrongful conduct over the years,” Beasley adds. “Clinical tests have proven Vioxx is and was a dangerous drug. It has killed literally thousands of unsuspecting victims who trusted the company and who had no idea that Vioxx caused the heart attacks and strokes.”
Beasley Allen Crow Methvin Portis & Miles, P.C. has been in the forefront of the effort to have all of the cycloxygenase-a (Cox-2) inhibitors (Bextra, Celebrex and Vioxx) taken off the market since the law firm took on its first cause against Merck more than four years ago. Beasley Allen is spearheading the review of over 31,000 claims against the manufactures of Bextra, Celebrex, and Vioxx, having filed 161 cases to date.
The case number is CV-2003-73 in the Circuit Court of Clay County, Alabama.