Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Will Any Of The Euro-Zone Vytorin® ENHANCE Depositions (Dr. Kastelein, et al.) Be Completed By New Years?

As you may recall, all of the seven or so remaining federal securities fraud and ERISA putative class action complaints related to the delay in disclosing the disappointing ENHANCE study results, and the precipitous decline in legacy Merck's stock price (which also halved legacy Schering-Plough's market capitalization, for portions of 2008 and 2009) have been consolidated before the very able federal District Court Judge Cavanaugh in Newark, for the purpose of expediting discovery and other pretrial matters. In October, all the lawyers agreed to extend the deadline for submitting amended pleadings, and additional interrogatories to January 1, 2011. That deadline has now been moved off of "Bowl Game" day, to the 3rd of January.

And by then, it may be that some of the European experts' depositions will have been completed. In any event, were I a plaintiffs' steering committee lawyer here, I'd be keenly interested in what those Dutch doctors have to say, under oath, before I amend my pleadings.

Much of what they have to say may very well greatly enhance the sorts of claims that might be made in the amended pleadings, all by January 3, 2011.

Background: the decline in United States sales of Vytorin®, and its elder sister drug Zetia® continued unabated in Q3 2010, marking seven straight overall quarterly declines, as a result of the ENHANCE debacle -- and the overarching ambiguity -- about whether the medications actually improve cardiovascular outcomes in people with high cholesterol.

. . . .AMENDED Scheduling Order

Up to 12 Additional Interrogatories Due | January3, 2011. . . .

Amended Pleadings due | January 3, 2011. . .

This may make settlements of the seven or so putative federal class actions more likely late in the first quarter of 2011 (rather than before year end 2010). Thus, additional New Merck litigation charges, and related additional litigation reserves -- as charges against per share profits -- in Q1 2011, are now more probable.

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