The cost to law firms of suing Merck for Vioxx damages can be as high as $1 million, which so far has kept the suits in the hands of the handful of firms who specialize in mass tort suits.
However, a steering committee of Vioxx plaintiffs' attorneys has put together a pre-made Vioxx trial package, which eliminates a number of costs, such as the need to examine millions of documents and interview Merck officials.
Now 20-Fold Reduction in Court Costs to Sue
The package, which can be obtained for a promise to pay 3 to 6 percent of any rewards or settlements, can bring costs down to as low as $50,000, easily affordable by many smaller law firms.
Firms Lining Up
The package includes video testimony, damaging documents from Merck, and prepared graphics for the courtroom. At least 200 firms have signed the contract to obtain the package thus far.
Lawyers using the package will still have to prove that Vioxx was the cause of the injuries in their particular case. In three out of the five cases that have so far gone to trial, the juries have ruled that Vioxx did not cause the injuries.
Pre-made trial packages are nothing new; they were also created for suits over the drugs Propulsid and Rezulin, and for the fen-phen diet drug lawsuits. I can't help but wonder if this latest package will affect the number of Vioxx lawsuits, which are already nearly 10,000 and rising by the day.
The variable that will likely determine how successful Vioxx plaintiffs are in the courts: How long patients took the banned drug. John McDarby, who received a $13.5-million award last week, had taken Vioxx for four years.
Some of you may wonder whether all of these lawsuits are necessary, or just a sign of our overly litigious society. You might have heard how studies show it is "potentially harmful" or that its use has only amounted to a small number of deaths in comparison to the thousands upon thousands of people who are helped by it.
But you might not have thought much about the actual people whose lives have been destroyed by this or similar drugs. And the truth is that no one should have to die because the drug companies want to increase their revenues.
Educating yourself about the evil ways of companies like Merck, and the inherent danger in treating your health problems with drugs and surgery, is an excellent first step you can take toward realizing how this country's current health care system can do little to help you.
One of the benefits of these court proceedings is that more people are getting a first-hand look at the greed on display by the multi-national drug corporations that hastily rush toxic drugs to market while recklessly ignoring patient safety issues.
In many ways this wasn't much difference from when Ford was raked over the coals for not spending a few more dollars to protect the gas tanks in Pintos that eventually resulted in many people dieing in explosions when they were rear ended.
Taking your health into your own hands and learning about what it takes to reach an optimal level of health will diminish your dependence on conventional medicine and help to assure that you will never need to risk taking a dangerous drug like Vioxx.