Monday, October 10, 2005

Vioxx Trial #2: Was the Court "misled" by Merck counsel?

Friday during the Humeston Vioxx trial, Judge Higbee addressed the day prior's testimony. Higbee said she felt misled and sickened after rereading a part of the transcript of a Merck researcher who said studies in the late 1990s showed the pain reliever would not cause heart damage. The comments were made outside the presence of the jury. The Judge then struck the testimony Dr. Morrison from the record because she said he was not an expert on the studies he had told the jury about.

Defense counsel then engaged in a heated discussion with the Judge. Judge Higbee said "I felt sick last night" about the testimony. Higbee also said she was was "misled repeatedly" with this testimony.

Morrison trial testimony was vastly different from what he had said in deposition about internal studies to determine whether Vioxx posed heart risks. Also, Morrison testified that Merck had conducted studies on dogs, rabbits and elderly people - and that these studies indicated that Vioxx did not trigger heart problems. Morrison failed to mention those studies in the deposition.

Things went downhill from there. The Judge allegedly admonished defense counsel. Some described what went on as a "shouting match." Another expressly heard the Court tell defense counsel to be quiet or risk being taken from the courtroom by the bailiff.

Judge Higbee refused to declare a mistrial, despite defense counsel seeking one.

My comment: In my humble opinion, is this anything new? Allegations that Merck misled the FDA, misled doctors, misled consumers, now misled a Court? Are we seeing a pattern here allegedly?