Merck’s defense that Vioxx caused cardiac problems only in people who used the pain reliever for 18 months or longer didn’t hold up in their most recent lawsuit. A Texas jury found Merck liable for the fatal heart attack of a man who took Vioxx for less than one month.
Attempting to combat the risk of endometrial cancer in postmenopausal women taking estrogen, doctors added progestin to hormone replacement therapies. However, recent evidence shows that this combination of hormones has its own set of risks.
Merck’s worries may not end with Vioxx. Attorneys are drawing their attention to Merck’s osteoporosis drug Fosamax, used to treat osteoporosis, for leading to a rare jawbone disease called osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ). ONJ causes the jawbone to rot and die.
Merck has been ordered to pay $9 million in punitive damages to John McDarby, a former Vioxx patient and heart attack survivor. This is on top of the $4.5 million already awarded for compensatory damages. The punitive damages were awarded by a New Jersey jury who felt Merck misrepresented Vioxx to federal regulators.
A jury found Merck guilty of not properly warning patients about the dangers of its drug Vioxx and guilty of causing the heart attack in plaintiff John McDarby. The jury awarded $3 million in compensatory damages to Mr. McDarby and an additional $1.5 million to his wife.