THE 18-MONTH VIOXX MYTH . . . Does Vioxx increase the risk of heart attacks only after 18 months of use? In today's "Vioxx Litigation Goes Federal," trial attorney Andy Birchfield says this idea is a "myth" that "Merck has manufactured to avoid liability."
Birchfield's right. You don't have to take my word for it, however: you can ask a federal judge. Relying on the 18-month myth, the defense-minded commentators have been predicting for months that the judge overseeing the federal Vioxx litigation was going to gut the plaintiff's case even before the first federal trial began. For example, here's how the National Law Journal portrayed the view of one defense lawyer--"not involved in Vioxx litigation"--in the linked article:
[B]ased on what he has seen reported of the case going to trial, he expects that the federal standard for the admissibility of scientific evidence will give the plaintiffs in this case "a challenging test to pass."
"What you will probably see is a barrage of pretrial Daubert motions to strike the plaintiff's medical causation case," he said.
What the article fails to mention is that Judge Fallon has already ruled on the "barrage" of pre-trial Daubert motions. You can read his 57-page ruling here (pdf). Almost all of Merck's motions were denied. That means the plaintiff's experts will be allowed to testify that Vioxx can increase cardiovascular risks if used even less than 30 days.
What about that 18-month myth? There's no doubt that Merck is very skilled at selling it to newspaper reporters and getting it planted in newspapers. That doesn't make it true.
In fact, why not call it what it is: junk science. My collected Vioxx posts are here.