Merck Wins Product Liability Case in Madison County, Ill. - Schwaller v. Merck
Frank Schwaller, who represents the estate of his wife, Patricia Schwaller, alleged that she used VIOXX(R) for more than one-and-a-half years and that it caused her death in 2003 at age 52.
"The evidence showed that Merck acted responsibly and that VIOXX was not the cause of Mrs. Schwaller's sudden cardiac death," said Dan Ball of the St. Louis firm Bryan Cave LLP, Merck's lead attorney in the case. "Unfortunately, Mrs. Schwaller had multiple risk factors for sudden cardiac death including a family history of heart disease, as well as diabetes, high blood pressure and morbid obesity. The combination of these risk factors put her at increased risk for sudden cardiac death, having nothing to do with VIOXX."
The American Tort Reform Association considers Madison County to be one of the nation's most difficult jurisdictions for corporate defendants. This was the first VIOXX case to go to trial in the Midwest. Illinois Circuit Court Judge Daniel J. Stack presided over the case.
"We are pleased with the jury's verdict," said Kenneth C. Frazier, executive vice president and general counsel of Merck. "Plaintiffs have the burden of proving their claims, and we believe these cases are best suited for individual review. Our strategy has now resulted in 10 favorable jury verdicts and more than 4,000 case dismissals."
Merck is represented by Dan Ball and Stephen Strauss of Bryan Cave LLP in St. Louis and Norman Kleinberg and James Fitzpatrick of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP in New York.
Status of Litigation
As of Dec. 31, 2006, the claims related to more than 4,025 alleged VIOXX users have been dismissed before being scheduled for trial. Of those, more than 1,225 were dismissed with prejudice either by plaintiffs themselves or by judges, meaning they cannot be filed again. More than 2,800 plaintiffs have had their claims dismissed without prejudice.
Juries have now found in favor of the Company 10 times and in favor of plaintiffs five times. There are two unresolved mistrials as a result of hung juries after plaintiffs failed to prove their claims. In addition, another 14 cases scheduled for trial were either dismissed or withdrawn from the trial calendar by plaintiffs before a jury could be selected.
Merck is pursuing its options for post-trial relief and appellate review with respect to each of the plaintiffs' verdicts.
For information regarding additional cases scheduled for trial in 2007 visit http://www.merck.com/newsroom/vioxx.
Merck & Co., Inc. is a global research-driven pharmaceutical company dedicated to putting patients first. Established in 1891, Merck currently discovers, develops, manufactures and markets vaccines and medicines to address unmet medical needs. The Company devotes extensive efforts to increase access to medicines through far-reaching programs that not only donate Merck medicines but help deliver them to the people who need them. Merck also publishes unbiased health information as a not-for-profit service. For more information, visit http://www.merck.com.
This press release contains "forward-looking statements" as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based on management's current expectations and involve risks and uncertainties, which may cause results to differ materially from those set forth in the statements. The forward-looking statements may include statements regarding product development, product potential or financial performance. No forward-looking statement can be guaranteed, and actual results may differ materially from those projected. Merck undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.
Forward-looking statements in this press release should be evaluated together with the many uncertainties that affect Merck's business, particularly those mentioned in the cautionary statements in Item 1A of Merck's Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2006, and in its periodic reports on Form 10-Q and Form 8-K, which the Company incorporates by reference.
Merck & Co., Inc.
Tilden Katz, 847-477-5230
Beth Sanzone, 202-577-3398
Graeme Bell, 908-423-5185
Posted: March 2007