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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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« Full Disclosure | Main | The Examiner Finally Snaps »

January 23, 2006

Merck versus the New England Journal

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Posted by Derek

Tuesday and Wednesday of this week are the days when Merck's attorneys are scheduled to question Dr. Gregory Curfman of the New England Journal of Medicine and another unnamed staffer. The journal's handling of the published Vioxx data (the VIGOR study) looks as if it could be a key part of the next trial, which will be in lawsuit-friendly Rio Grande City, Texas, with jury selection beginning this week. Note that the late plaintiff had taken Vioxx for all of seventeen days.

Naturally, both sides are saying that they expect the facts to help them out. The plaintiffs will argue that the recent editorial in the NEJM confirms that Merck was trying to hide the risks of Vioxx, and Merck will argue. . .well, they might argue several things. For one thing, they'll try to show that the journal's suspicions about altered data are unfounded. But I also have to wonder if my theory from last month is going to get aired out, too. Will Merck's attorneys ask if the journal has been approached by representatives of the plaintiffs?

We'll have to wait until the the next trial to see if any of this makes it into the courtroom. For now, I think it's interesting and unusual enough for Merck to be putting a journal editor under oath. They must feel as if they've got a pretty good reason for doing it. And they'd better. . .

For pre-trail reading, here's a law professor from Fordham who says the whole spectacle isn't making our liability law system look very good.

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: Cardiovascular Disease


1. Dr Ng Swee Choon on January 24, 2006 3:28 AM writes...

Dear Sir,

Looks like the plaintiff has a case. I do not know all the details of the case, but I sure know from a thorough research of COX2 actions and also the VIGOR and CLASS trials, that COX2 are cardiac and artery unfriendly and also that there maybe data manipulation before they presented to FDA.

Dr SC Ng

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2. tom bartlett on January 24, 2006 9:00 AM writes...

There is no evidence that Vioxx causes anything more than mild edema-- and the FDA know about that when they approved it. As I have said before, this whole thing is a witch hunt by greedy "ambulance chasers".

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3. JD on January 24, 2006 1:34 PM writes...


I was wondering if anyone reading this blog had any interesting thoughts to share on FDA's quite recent attempt to limit drug companies' liability in these sorts of cases:

I don't know enough about the history of the Vioxx case to say if FDA's interpretation of the law would still have done any good for Merck.


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4. Matt on January 26, 2006 5:23 PM writes...

If the jury finds for Merck, do they lose the title of "lawsuit friendly" down there? What does it take for a place to get that title, and how do they give it up?

Maybe if they acquit Kenneth Lay, too, American business will once again anoint the Valley as an acceptable place!

"Will Merck's attorneys ask if the journal has been approached by representatives of the plaintiffs?"

Of course they have. They undoubtedly had BOTH sides subpoena their information in discovery, BOTH sides subpoena them for depositions, etc. Almost nothing happens in modern civil litigation without both sides having full access to it. The surprise witness days, with the Perry Mason moment where the other side looks defeated because they had no idea the witness was alive are long gone. The editor has already been under oath, probably for hours, during his deposition. They already know what he's going to say.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Merck versus the New England Journal:

Vioxx and Cox2 inhibitors from Heart of the Matter
Vioxx probably has something to answer for [Read More]

Tracked on February 1, 2006 7:03 AM


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