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The Vioxx Litigation

By Theodore H. Frank
March 02, 2007
On September 30, 2004 , Merck withdrew its painkiller Vioxx from the market because of a study showing a small but statistically signifi cant increase in risk of cardiovascular events from long-term usage of the drug. What had been a trickle of litigation over the drug became a flood. As of January, there were over 27,000 personal-injury lawsuits involving over 45,000 plaintiff groups, and another 265 putative class actions fi led.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys, it seems, are using the procedural class-action mechanism to achieve substantive advantages in litigation. The vast majority of the class actions Merck faces can be placed in one of four
categories....