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Australian court findings on Vioxx may have global ramifications

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c1485 (Published 16 March 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c1485
  1. Ray Moynihan
  1. 1Byron Bay, Australia

    A court in Melbourne has ruled that the anti-arthritis drug rofecoxib (Vioxx) increased the risk of heart attack, while finding that the Australian subsidiary of its manufacturer engaged in negligent and misleading behaviour.

    In a class action judgment delivered earlier this month, the federal court judge Christopher Jessup found that rofecoxib contributed to the heart attack of plaintiff Graeme Peterson.

    The judge ruled that Merck Sharp & Dohme “fell short” of what was required in the reasonable discharge of its “duty of care” by failing to warn Mr Peterson’s doctor of the drug’s potential cardiac risk and because sales representatives overemphasised its safety.

    He also ruled that the drug was not of “merchantable quality” and that, because “Vioxx involved about a doubling of …

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