Headline on the cover: "Merck's $27 Billion Heart Attack." Headline inside: "Will Merck Survive Vioxx?" Number of Americans who took fen-phen: 6 million Amount of money paid so far to settle fen-phen lawsuits: $16.6 billion Number of Americans who took Vioxx: 20 million Fortune's prediction of the cost of the Vioxx litigation: "The cost of settling the lawsuits will almost surely be in the billions of dollars, quite possibly in the tens of billions." Number of people who took Vioxx worldwide: 80 million Market cap lost since Vioxx was withdrawn from the market: $33 billion Boast Merck made about Vioxx in its 1999 Annual Report: The "biggest, fastest, and best launch ever." Date Merck began the study that led to what it says was the first evidence of a heart risk: 1999 When plaintiffs' lawyers say Merck first knew about a heart risk: As early as 1996 Number of lawyers named in the article: 5 Number of documents already produced in the New Jersey Vioxx litigation: 3 million Plaintiffs' lawyers named in the article: Jere Beasley, Chris Seeger, and Andy Birchfield, Jr. Defense lawyer named in the article: Amy Shulman Other lawyers named in the article: Kenneth Frazier, Merck's general counsel Annual sales of Vioxx until its withdrawal: $2.5 billion Money Merck spent on direct-to-consumer advertising: $500 million Quote from a pissed-off doctor, writing in the New England Journal of Medicine: "Had the company not valued sales over safety, a suitable trial could have been initiated rapidly [to pin down Vioxx's cardiovascular risk] at a fraction of the cost of Merck's direct-to-consumer advertising campaign." Quote from Merck's general counsel: "We communicated appropriately, and in the end we took the actions that were in the best interests of patients." Number of times the article mentions tort reform: 0
There you have it. For a detailed field guide to the lawyers who will be sorting out the Vioxx mess for the next five or ten years, see my Cast of Characters.
UPDATE 2/14/04. For all of my collected Vioxx posts, look here. If you are (a) someone who was harmed by Vioxx or (b) a lawyer who wants to refer your Vioxx cases to a highly-competent team of mass-tort lawyers, look here.