Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Update on the N.J. Vioxx Trial 3.8.06

Mark Lanier is pressing on with the trial of Mr. Cona before State Couourt Judge Higbee. This week the jury saw e-mail messages, internal documents and other materials that showed how Merck was concerned about the the MI danger of Vioxx.

New for the Vioxx litigation: The jury saw a short video not previously shown in other trial. Called the "V Squad," it's not an Oscar worthy flick. It is a 12-minute sales-training video played that had two Merck salespeople dressed as superheroes -- each in a black suit with a giant orange V on it. In the video the salesmen fought off human obstacles who represented questions from doctors to whom the company pitched its blockbuster arthritis drug.

Other documents introduced at the trial:

Also shown:

*An internal memorandum where Merck executives indicated it would cost Merck $611 million in sales if rival Celebrex beat Vioxx to market. (It did)

*An e-mail from a Merck employee which said the only essential study needed for Vioxx was a "CV outcomes" study whose lone purpose was assessing whether Vioxx caused heart attacks and strokes. Merck didn't do the study.

*A letter to Merck's CEO at the time (Raymond Gilmartin) sent by the FDA. In that letter, the FDA told Merck it was misrepresenting Vioxx's safety profile and misleading doctors.

This information comes from those at the trial as well as news reports on Yahoo and Reuters.