Merck

25 Sep: The Fosamax mistrial, and other options in osteoporosis medication

Earlier this month, a closely-watched trial over the osteoporosis drug Fosamax ended in mistrial, to the frustration of nearly everyone involved. The trial was marked by great tension, with a deadlocked jury, reports of threats of physical violence, and a judge-ordered cooling-down period. What could cause such intense drama? Well, this was just one of approximately 900 state and federal cases pending against Fosamax, alleging that that medication causes osteonecrosis of the jaw (the death of jawbone tissue). In large part, the tension in the Manhattan courtroom was that this trial “the first” was supposed to be an indicator of how these hundreds of similar cases might proceed. The other major factor is that it is notoriously difficult to “prove”…

23 Jan: Merck and Schering-Plough: partners in slime

Oh what fun it is to cover Big Pharma. First we get the Wall Street Journal crediting Peter Rost and BrandweekNRX for breaking an insider trading scandal at Schering-Plough. Then we get Merck and Schering-Plough pulling their popular “two sources of cholesterol” commercials from television because Vytorin apparently does not reduce the buildup of fatty plaque as claimed. As Media Orchard puts it, there are Two Ways to Get Egg on Your Face 1. You can crack one open. 2. You can be Merck CEO Richard Clark.

19 Sep: Murkier and murkier for Merck

From the Daily Dog: The state and city of New York filed suit this week against Merck, claiming the drugmaker concealed the risks of the withdrawn arthritis treatment Vioxx. The lawsuit seeks damages, penalties and restitution for “tens of millions of taxpayer dollars wrongfully spent on Vioxx prescriptions,” the office of New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said in a statement… “Merck’s irresponsible and duplicitous conduct endangered the health of New Yorkers and wasted our tax dollars,” Cuomo said… The Attorney General’s office said this is the first case to be brought under New York’s recently-enacted False Claims Act, which allows the state to seek damages for the amount spent in Medicaid and EPIC healthcare programs to pay for…

27 Aug: Vioxx lesson: When you’re bad, be VERY bad

Remember the little problem with Vioxx? As a result, Vioxx still has more than 13,800 lawsuits on the docket. Over the last two years, only four trials have been held, but Judge Carol Higbee is looking to pick up the pace — from glacier slow to snail-in-winter slow. Higbee’s goal, according to Pharmalot, is to “ease the logjam”. But Pharmalot points out: With so many lawsuits, it’s entirely possible that many of the Vioxx plaintiffs will never see their day in court, or collect if they do win, because Merck is appealing every outcome that doesn’t go its way. For this reason, Wall Street believes Merck’s Vioxx liability is $5 billion, not the $25 billion or more that many once…