Merck & Company’s painkiller, Vioxx, contributed to an Idaho postal worker’s heart attack, a jury in Atlantic City ruled Monday, reversing the verdict in the man’s first trial and awarding him and his wife $20 million in damages, according an Associated Press article published in the New York Times on Monday.
The jury came back with the verdict in favor of Frederick Humeston, who lost his first trial in 2005 against the pharmaceutical giant, but was granted a second trial in light of new evidence that short-term use of Vioxx could cause significant harm as well. Merck insists Vioxx did not increase cardiac risks until after 18 months of use, but many doctors say research disproves that.
According to the Associated Press article, Merck has now won nine cases and lost five in the ever-increasing litigation over Vioxx, formerly a blockbuster arthritis pill.
Humeston, 61, of Boise, Idaho, suffered a heart attack in September 2001. But that was several months before Merck, under pressure from federal regulators, put a stronger warning about the cardiovascular risks of Vioxx on the drug’s detailed package insert.
Humeston had taken Vioxx intermittently for knee pain from a Vietnam War shrapnel wound. Merck removed Vioxx from the market in September 2004 after its own research showed the drug doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke.
The five-man, three-woman jury ruled on March 2 that Merck was negligent and did not provide adequate warning about the risks before Humeston suffered the heart attack. That set the stage for a second phase of the trial, with the jury last week hearing evidence on whether Vioxx contributed to the man’s heart attack, entitling him to damages.
The jurors awarded Humeston $18 million in compensatory damages and gave $2 million to his wife, Mary. The third phase of the trial, which will begin shortly, will have jurors considering whether Humeston should get punitive damages.
I applaud the persistence of this plaintiff who didn’t let go and pursued a company, which we know to be negligent. Repeatedly, Merck has shown us that they don’t care enough about their consumers. They are always eager to push medicines in the market, which of course gets a stamp of approval from the Federal Drug Administration. But we find out later that the drugs should not have gotten approved. Vioxx is one example. Fosamax is another.
At Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys, we still have several Vioxx cases pending, waiting for our trial dates and can’t wait to have our day in court and bring this so-called industry giant to justice.
Plaintiffs in these cases deserve every dollar they get to at least somewhat make up for their traumatic experiences as a result of such defective drugs. If you have had such an experience and have been hurt by defective drugs or defective products, call us for a free consultation.