To Whitehouse Station's emerging good credit, it did not bury this one in an Investor FAQ:
No, in a press release of just a few minutes ago, Merck is trying to get ahead of the Friday morning NYSE pre-market news cycle -- by offering its own release on the outcome in the Graeme Peterson Vioxx® products liability case. Will this move the stock south, in the morning?
I don't know -- I am still trying to source a reliable possible damages figure. [This was, I think, a bellweather case -- raising the possibility that hundreds more may now be brought in Australia.] I suspect MRK will open soft, tomorrow, though. Here is the Merck release:
. . . .March 4, 2010 – Today, the Federal Court in Australia published its judgment in the Peterson case. The Court found against MSD Australia on two claims under Australian statutory provisions. . . .
Merck and MSD Australia disagree with the limited portions of the Court’s findings that were against MSD Australia and intend to appeal them.
The companies are in the process of reviewing the full judgment. The litigation in Australia remains at an early stage. . . .
I do think Merck's remaining balance sheet reserves mostly cover legal defense costs (attorneys' fees & expenses) only, here -- if memory serves, there is not much left in reserves to cover the actual payment of Vioxx damages/judgments -- so the court's award (if any, at this stage) will be an important piece of information.
Here is an Australian report of the judge's ruling:
. . . .Federal Court judge Christopher Jessup awarded $287,000 in compensation today to Victorian grandfather Graeme Peterson, who claimed the drug caused him to have a heart attack in 2003. . . .
"I have concluded that across a population the consumption of Vioxx about doubled the risk of heart attack," Judge Jessop said.
"I have held that because Vioxx involved about a doubling of the risk of heart attack, it was not reasonably fit for the purpose of being used for the relief of arthritic pain. . . ."