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Merck faces ongoing claims after Texan ruling on rofecoxib

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.331.7515.471 (Published 01 September 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:471
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. New York

    The drug company Merck may face thousands of lawsuits over its cyclo-oxygenase-2 inhibitor rofecoxib (Vioxx) after losing a court case concerning the death from an arrhythmia of a fit 59 year old man from Texas who was taking the drug. The jury awarded his widow $253.4m (£140m; €206m)—$24.4m for economic loss and emotional anguish and $229m in punitive damages. However, the award will be reduced under Texan law to about $26m. Merck has said it will appeal.


    Embedded Image

    Robert Ernst, who died in his sleep in May 2001, had taken rofecoxib (Vioxx) for eight months

    Credit: ERNST FAMILY/AP/EMPICS

    But Merck faces at least 4200 state and federal lawsuits in the United States by people or their relatives who say they were harmed by the drug.

    People elsewhere—the United Kingdom and other European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and Brazil—are …

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