In what passed as a quiet day in the Atlantic City, NJ court room of Judge Carol Higbee, Merck's defense team restarted it's defense of the embattled drug maker in the second major Vioxx trial.
As reported below, last week was marked by the highly unusual shouting match between presiding Judge Carol Higbee and defense counsel Dianne Sullivan.
Yesterday was marked by relative calm as Attorney Stephen Raber of Williams and Connolly questioned Merck VP Alise Reicsin, head of clinical research on a series of potentially troubling emails she wrote back in the late 1990's discussing Vioxx's potential impact on heart patients in a clinical study being conducted. Those emails had been presented earlier in the trial by Chris Seeger as possible evidence that Merck knew well in advance that there were potential issues with heart patients if these drugs were used by them.
Dr. Reicsin essentially explained under examination that her emails weren't about a possible heart attack risk for Vioxx, but instead reflected a concern about aspirin taking patients in a study that was testing the gastrointestinal safety of the Cox series drugs. She testified that she worried that if aspirin takers were EXCLUDED, patients taking other types of painkillers would get heart protection, thus skewing the data to make it appear that Vioxx caused heart attacks or other cardio incidents.
She is scheduled for further testimony today.