In the methodical fashion of the ex-boxer he is, Attorney Chris Seeger continues to cut down the size of the ring in his court battle against Merck, moving them systematically into a corner for what he hopes will be the knock out blow and another crushing verdict against the NJ based pharmaceutical giant.
This week the cardiologist for the plaintiffs testified that he saw no indication in the angiogram and history of the Mr. Humeston to indicate that a cardiac event such as he suffered was likely or imminent prior to his taking Vioxx, and as such he was quite convinced given the evidence that Vioxx was directly linked to the heart attack he eventually suffered while on the medication. The defense has been countering by going back into the plaintiff's job history to determine if prior heart indications were present, if job stress was excessive leading up to the incident, or if any other outside factor could be tied to the event. In all, according to my friends in the room, the plaintiffs had a very strong close to the week with this evidence and Merck was clearly on it's heels in trying to counter this latest round of evidence.
As i've said before, I believe Merck will fight on regardless of the verdict in the NJ case, and hold out to see what kind of a result they get down in US Federal court in Louisiana, where several thousand Vioxx cases have been consolidated and Merck will make it's last stand to see what kind of forum and results they get there. The death knell for Merck will be if they lose big in Federal court, as that will open the flood gates and then it will be a question of how high is up in the settlement process. The facts are working against Merck once again in the NJ case, much as they did in the Texas case that preceded it. I'm not yet predicting a plaintiff's verdict, but Chris Seeger is going about his business in a highly effective manner and Merck is getting into the late rounds behind on points, and it will take a knock out, if I can stay with my boxing analogy, for them to win this now.