Tuesday, February 14, 2006

MDL Vioxx Trial Update: Changing Testimony?

With the Defense expected to begin sometime today (after the expected Motion for Directed Verdict), there were some items of interest in this, the Irvin case being tried by Judge Fallon.

Yesterday Gregory Curfman M.D. testified. Curfman is an Editor with NEJM; he testified that there was indeed a connection between the first Irvin trial held in Houston, TX in November of 2005 and the timing of a NEJM editorial that was critical of a study used as evidence in Irvin.

The editorial was clearly critical of the VIGOR study conducted by Merck (and which played a role in the withdrawal of Vioxx). In the first trial, both the Plaintiff and the Defendant used facts and conclusions published in it to support their respective positions about whether Merck told enough about the information on the drug's role in heart attacks.

The editorial specifically claimed that VIGOR failed to mention within it that three patients had heart attacks while taking the painkiller during the study, and that there was an unwarranted conclusion about data that had been reported in VIGOR.

Curfman testified that the NEJM published the editorial online because he thought that his deposition would be heard by the jury in Irvin #1. Curfman testified that because his trial testimony was not an "official" statement by the NEJM, editors believed the editorial should be released first to be sure the information at trial was clearly set out and understood by the public.