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.