The Federal Court has handed down its findings in the case brought by class action representative Mr Graeme Peterson against Merck Sharpe & Dohme in which it was alleged that Vioxx contributed to Mr Peterson’s heart attack, and that Merck had intentionally downplayed the cardiovascular risks which were associated with the drug. Justice Jessup found that Vioxx doubled the risk of heart attack in patients, however that Merck had not intentionally turned a blind eye to the risks.
Vioxx was marketed by Merck Sharpe & Dohme as a treatment for arthritis until it was voluntarily withdrawn in 2004 following regulatory concerns that the drug increased the risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease.
The decision, which follows Merck’s settlement of a class action brought in the United States for $US4.85 billion, has important implications for the Australian members of the class action.
Merck has indicated it intends to appeal Justice Jessup’s decision.