Monday, October 17, 2005

Years of Vioxx Litigation?

An interesting read from

The writer for newsday reports that if Merck loses the second trial, characterized as a "relatively weak case" one lawyer who saw the first trial in Texas said the company "should" talk settlement.

"David Berg, who practices both in Houston and New York, pointed to the swift recovery of Halliburton's stock price after the company announced it was putting aside $5 billion to settle hundreds of thousands of asbestos lawsuits. By doing the same, Merck could refocus Wall Street's attention on its other strong drug offerings _ including a new vaccine against the virus responsible for causing cervical cancer."

The article then quoted others as saying it's too early for that.

There is too much variety - in how much Vioxx plaintiffs or their loved ones have taken, and the harm they said it caused - to have be answered by just the first two verdicts, according to one professor who was quoted.

My comment: If this is a loss, there will not be a change in any short term strategy. What I see as perhaps defining where the Vioxx litigation goes is the decision by the MDL Judge (Fallon) to try four distinct injury cases - one after another - in his courtroom beginning late this year and going through the next. With verdicts for the injured parties in any or all of those you could see the initial formation of a mass settlement grid.