Jury awards Ernst $253.5M in Vioxx suit

News of the Vioxx verdict dominates the media this morning. While the $253.5 million in damages awarded to the widow of a user of the painkiller who died of a heart attack in 2001 will likely be sharply reduced, most observers are agreed that the impact of the decision is likely to be felt for years.

How did it happen and what does it mean? Opinion is divided. The New York Times writes that the hardball tactics pursued by the defense team misfired completely, leaving the company badly exposed to future suits. The Wall Street Journal concludes that, "Facing thousands of lawsuits over the drug, Merck had built its case on science. But jurors in effect quickly dispensed with the science in producing a verdict."

- see this story from The New York Times
- see this story from The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)

PLUS: The Times has a good behind-the-scenes report filed by one of its reporters who was embedded in the plaintiff's legal team for the duration of the trial. Story