Merck & Co., founded in 1891, has a slogan – what it calls its “guiding philosophy.” That philosophy is, “patients first.” In the first of many Vioxx trials expected to be litigated in state and federal courts across the country, the jury wasn’t buying it. On Aug. 19, after a month-long trial, ten out of 12 jurors – the number needed to return a verdict of guilty – found Merck liable to the plaintiffs, survivors of a man who took Vioxx for pain relief. The damages award was staggering: $24.5 million in economic losses and compensation for mental anguish and $229 million in punitive damages.

One of Company’s Leading Products May Be Its Undoing

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