Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Merck Seeks To Settle Derivative Cases -- On VIOXX

More soon, but here is the proposed settlement order, in full.

. . . .This definition of Settled Claims excludes. . . . any derivative claims concerning Vytorin, Zetia and/or the ENHANCE trial, which are pending in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey or which may in the future be brought derivatively in any court in New Jersey. . .

e. Merck’s Code of Conduct shall be amended to add the following, and such amendments shall be communicated to the Board and the Executive Committee at their first regularly-scheduled meetings, respectively, following the approval of this Settlement by the Court:
i. “Scientific and Academic Integrity. At Merck, we understand and respect the role of independent scientific and academic research and debate to medical, scientific and human progress. Accordingly, in all research endeavors that are sponsored by Merck, we will refrain from attempting to influence inappropriately the results and conclusions of such research. Clinical research at Merck shall be conducted under the direction of qualified medical and scientific personnel and according to high standards of medical and clinical ethics.”

ii. The section on “Honest Communication” will be amended to add: “At Merck, we understand and respect the role of physicians in prescribing drugs for their patients.” and “We strive for all communications with the medical community to be accurate, truthful and consistent with labeling. . . .”

. . . .The Board has determined in its business judgment that paying reasonable attorneys’ fees and expenses to Plaintiffs’ Counsel in the Actions, as approved by the Court in an amount not to exceed $12,150,000, is in the best interests of the Company. Based on Plaintiffs’ Counsel’s representations regarding their lodestar, Merck and the Individual Defendants have agreed not to oppose such an application. The Fee and Expense Award shall be paid by Merck to Plaintiffs’ Lead Counsel in accordance with the terms of the Stipulation. . . .

All of this is contained in an SEC Form 8-K, Merck filed overnight.

Also -- please keep in mind that the basis of this proposed settlement agreement is not new -- it is pinned to, and cribbed from, an Oregon AG settlement from 2008. That was State of Oregon ex rel. Hardy Myers v. Merck & Co., Inc., Case No. 08C16426 (Or. Cir. Ct., Marion Cty.), filed May 20, 2008.

So, this will in no way resolve all the Vioxx matters more generally, for New Merck. Still remaining are the securities cases, and the "opt-out" personal injury lawsuits, as well as active government investigations -- at least some of them criminal, in nature.

This is about Act I of a three Act play.

A grateful Hat Tip, to Salmon -- again!


Anonymous said...

Oh, the things I know!

I have so many comments but I will only share 1 rhetorical comment now.

What happens when labeling is not accurate or truthful?


condor said...

Thanks Salmon --

This -- at a minimum -- sets up nearly immediate criminal charges, should New Merck offer untruthful, or inaccurate labeling, on any FDA approved product it sells.

It will get kinda' interesting, if New Merck ever stubs its toe again, at FDA -- and we all can guess that, eventually -- it will.


Anonymous said...

Sorry. Just another comment. the proposed settlement order is vs. Edward M. Scolnick and then Merck.

Ed Scolnick is at MIT (after arranging a multimillion dollar grant from Merck) and is the director of the Psychiatric Disease Program and the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the

The Stanley's founded NAMI (which has been under investigation by Sen. Grassley) and are big supporters of the Treatment Advocacy Center which advocates the forcable psychiatric medication of people and works on changing state laws to allow it.

Jim Gottstein of Psychrights and has documents on his website showing Dr. E. Fuller Torrey the founder of the TAC has advocated that psychiatrists lie in pyschiatric commitment hearings. He and the TAC also actively promote the idea that psych patients are inherently dangerous and that the increased the use of antipsychotic drugs such as Saphris (asenapine-Merck) need to be used. Just go to the TAC and psychrights websites and see for yourself. In truth most psych patients are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of violence.


Sarah Miller said...

I simply can't fathom that something like 30,000 people died before Merck pulled Vioxx from the market.

Does that cause any of the execs at the time to lose any sleep??

Sarah Miller said...

"...immediate criminal charges, should New Merck offer untruthful, or inaccurate labeling...." - I agree too!