In what was probably Merck's strongest day at trial in several weeks, their primary cardiologist expert, Dr. Theodore Tyberg testified that prior cardiac history, heart issues and job related stress most likely brought about the heart attack suffered by the plaintiff in the most recent Vioxx trial.
In what plaintiff Attorney Chris Seeger referred to "as a joke", as regards the stress being the causation of the heart attack, the defense methodically examined Dr. Tyberg as to his opinion regarding events leading up to the heart attack and their effect on the plaintiff. The defense went to great pains according to court room observers and transcripts to point out that this was the first time Dr. Tyberg had ever worked as an expert witness, and drove home over and over to the jury, the issues of job stress, work related concerns, past cardiac history and their contention that the Vioxx use was too short and sporadic to have caused the event.
What makes this witness so potentially damaging to the plaintiffs is the prior questions asked by jurors seemed to point to these issues when the plaintiffs case was being put in earlier this month. Clearly, it would seem that the defendant's picked up on that and are going to hammer home over and over issues which could raise reasonable doubt as to causation.
Attorney Seeger commented to the press he would expose the flaws in these arguments and this witness. Observers will be watching closely to see how he handles this crucial aspect of the case, and it would seem that Merck's best hope rests, once again, on causation questions.