Judge Eldon E. Fallon ruled yesterday that he will allow a videotaped deposition from one of the nations leading cardiologist who was one of the earliest critics of Vioxx and the heart risks it appeared to create.
The decision is a big potential problem for Merck and it's defense team as the cardiologist, Dr. Eric Topol, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the renown Cleveland Clinic, accused Merck of scientific misconduct and through their marketing and other efforts, misrepresentation of facts that ultimately endangered cardiac patients.
The video testimony of Dr. Topol was taken by Attorney Thomas Kline of Kline & Specter is reported to include Dr. Topol criticizing actions that Merck took in marketing Vioxx, the sharing of studies and ultimately removing it from shelves. Dr. Topol had written an article three years prior to the pulling of Vioxx in the Journal of the American Medical Association that flagged Vioxx as a possible culprit in heart attacks and strokes. He specifically called on Merck to do a long term study looking into the issues he raised.
What makes this video testimony so damaging is that Dr. Topol, in addition to being a highly credible expert, counters many of the aspects crucial to Mercks defense in its Vioxx litigation strategy. For further back story and information on this fascinating testimony and some of the pressure brought to bear against Dr. Topol by Merck in the years leading up to Vioxx's withdrawal from market, go to the online edition of The Wall Street Journal that first broke this story.
The net impact is that what was generally perceived as an ideal case, forum and judge for Merck in the first MDL trial in Houston, TX has now been thrown wide open on the issue of short term risk of Vioxx to cause cardiac events. We will be reporting further on this with several of our experts at The Legal Broadcast Network both by video and audio.