German Court Rejects Vioxx Claims

October 23, 2006

A German court rejected two claims last week over U.S. drugmaker Merck & Co.’s withdrawn painkiller Vioxx, including one seeking euro80,000 (US$100,000) in damages.

A civil court in Berlin said it dismissed both claims against the German distributor of the once-blockbuster drug.

A woman who filed a suit seeking at least euro80,000 in damages failed to show that the drug could have caused an illness she was suffering from, a court statement said. It said the woman had failed to respond adequately to a suggestion from the distributor that a chronic illness could have caused her symptoms.

In the second case, the court rejected a man’s claim for information from the company about the effects and possible side effects of the drug. It said he too failed to demonstrate a connection between taking the drug and his symptoms.

“Expressing a vague suspicion is not enough,” the court said.

It didn’t identify either the German distributor or the two claimants, both of whom can still appeal.

Vioxx was prescribed to millions of patients around the world before Merck pulled it from the market on Sept. 30, 2004 after studies indicated it increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, has already won a string of court cases in the United States, where more than 21,000 suits have been filed. Class action suits could cost the company billions if it loses.

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