WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J., Dec. 12, 2005 – Merck & Co., Inc. is disappointed a federal court jury in Houston, Texas could not return a verdict in Plunkett v. Merck and is prepared for a retrial, if that becomes necessary.
“We presented evidence that there is no medical or scientific evidence showing short-term use of VIOXX increases the risk of heart attack and no evidence that it contributed any way to the unfortunate death of Richard Irvin,” said Philip Beck, of the law firm of Bartlit Beck, Merck’s lead trial lawyer in the case. “Mr. Irvin only took VIOXX for less than a month. He suffered multiple long-standing risk factors for a heart attack including partially clogged arteries. We believe that Mr. Irvin would have suffered a heart attack when he did, whether he was taking VIOXX or not.”
“If a retrial is scheduled we will be right back with the same facts,” said Kenneth C. Frazier, senior vice president and general counsel of Merck. “The VIOXX litigation will go on for years. We have the resources and the resolve to address these cases, one by one, in a reasonable and responsible manner.”
The lawsuit was originally filed in Palm Beach County, Florida in May 2003 by Mr. Irvin’s surviving spouse, Evelyn Irvin Plunkett. The case was re-filed in the federal Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) as case number 05-4046 in 2005.
The MDL is based in federal court in New Orleans; the Plunkett case was tried in Houston because of the effects of Hurricane Katrina. The Judge presiding over the MDL has said he plans to schedule three additional trials on a monthly basis, starting in February 2006. Merck is represented in the Plunkett case by Philip Beck and Tarek Ismail of Bartlit Beck of Chicago.
Merck & Co., Inc. is a global research-driven pharmaceutical company dedicated to putting patients first. Established in 1891, Merck discovers, develops, manufactures and markets vaccines and medicines in more than 20 therapeutic categories. The company devotes extensive efforts to increase access to medicines through far-reaching programs that not only donate Merck medicines but also help deliver them to the people who need them. Merck also publishes unbiased health information as a not-for-profit service. For more information, visit www.merck.com.
This press release contains “forward-looking statements” as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based on management’s current expectations and involve risks and uncertainties, which may cause results to differ materially from those set forth in the statements. The forward-looking statements may include statements regarding product development, product potential or financial performance. No forward-looking statement can be guaranteed, and actual results may differ materially from those projected. Merck undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Forward-looking statements in this press release should be evaluated together with the many uncertainties that affect Merck’s business, particularly those mentioned in the cautionary statements in Item 1 of Merck’s Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 3 1,2004, and in its periodic reports on Form 10-Q and Form 8-K, which the Company incorporates by reference.