Merck’s press conference was very disappointing, according to Andy Birchfield, who manages the Mass Torts Section at Beasley, Allen, Methvin Portis & Miles. “Instead of accepting responsibility for putting a dangerous drug on the market and keeping it there for so long, Merck spent an hour defending itself.”

“Merck could have been more conciliatory and offered an apology to the many victims who suffered heart attacks and strokes and to the families of victims who died as a result of Vioxx,” Birchfield says. “But Merck continued to spin their actions as that of a responsible pharmaceutical company.”

Merck stated that it moved quickly to do what was best for patients. “But we know differently,” Birchfield says.

When confronted with early warning signs of the dangers of Vioxx, Merck did not pull back on Vioxx until questions about risks could be answered. On the contrary, Merck kept its massive marketing effort going full speed. “This clearly belies Merck’s suggestion that it acted responsibly and with a commitment to patient safety,” Birchfield adds.

Perhaps, the clearest and most disturbing indication of Merck putting Vioxx sales over patient safety is seen in what Merck did one week after the FDA’s observational study showed a 315% increase risk in heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths over Celebrex: Merck obtained approval to market Vioxx to children!

Beasley Allen is recognized as a national leader in pharmaceutical litigation. Currently, the firm’s Mass Torts Section is handling cases involving Baycol, Rezulin, Vioxx, Celebrex, PPA, Ephedra, Welding Rods, Metabolife and Meridia.

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