American drug giant Merck could face thousands of lawsuits after it was found negligent in the death of a man who took its popular painkiller Vioxx. A jury in Texas ordered the pharmaceutical firm to pay more than 200 million euros in compensation to the man’s widow. Carol Ernst said she hoped her case would set a precedent:“I hope this will be a wake-up call for all the pharmaceutical companies that not only physicians but also individual consumers have the right to know what the risks are when you take a drug.” Merck has always disputed accusations Vioxx caused her husband to die of a heart attack, but did acknowledge that long-term usage could double the risk of a stroke and pulled the drug off the market in September 2004. The pharmaceutical firm has said it won’t settle and has vowed to fight similar cases in the future.
Historic Vioxx case could lead to thousands more