One important thing to take away from today's verdict, even though it will presumably be reduced by virtue of the Texas law on punitive damages, is that this was a case perceived to have causation problems that made it virtually unwinnable for the plaintiffs. The verdict is very good news for victims of Vioxx and a terrible omen for Merck.
There's still a long road ahead, however. To all those lawyers who represent people injured by Vioxx who really are feeling smug: it's a little soon to be buying your new G-IVs. Rather, it's time to keep the pressure up, by filing your cases and working them up for trial. And be sure not to forget the lessons of my "motivational pearls of wisdom" for mass-tort lawyers from the Legal Underground Podcast, Episode #32.
Yes, I'm a killjoy, which is what they're calling me right now in the office. On the other hand, it's been eight years since the diet drugs Pondimin and Redux were removed from the market, and Wyeth is still defending diet-drug lawsuits despite a nationwide class-action settlement early in the litigation. The Vioxx litigation could also be going on for years.
My collected Vioxx posts are here (24 and counting!).
UPDATE: I have thoughts about the possibilty of a Merck bankruptcy in the podcast described in this post.
UPDATE II: 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.