Affairs of The Heart: Continued

  • by: |
  • 11/09/2007
Which of these is likely to be the per client amount individuals who entered the Vioxx litigation sweepstakes are going to get:

a. $1million
b. $400k
c. $75000
d. $5300

If you picked d) you get a tube of John Edwards' hair gel. That's right. Take the $4.8 billion Merck will fork over, give half of it to all those well meaning trial attorneys and then divide the rest among the 45000 plaintiffs.

CORRECTION: My friend, and consigliere Paul Windels nails me on the math, my estimate of the tort take and my cheap calculator that only runs into the hundreds of milions and wins a case of hair grout with the following email...

Bob -- I think you have a decimal point error here. If there are 45,000 plaintiffs, $5,000 per plaintiff is around 225 million. Your number is correct if there are 450,000 plaintiffs -- on the other hand any plaintiff with a decent case would opt out of the settlement if it were only worth $5,300. I would expect a fee max 33% meaning $3.2 billion net, which would be around $70K per, a much more attractive number. Cheers. Paul.

Did Merck ignore safety signals of Vioxx in a way that made it liable for people dying. No. There are lots of safety signals. Are there better ways to figure out which ones reflect real risk. You bet and that means not having to wait four years to find out about them, which was the point of Eric Topol's original article about Vioxx. Are we any closer to knowing how to manage the risks of COX-2s because of the grandstanding and litigation? No. Could Vioxx been remarketed and sold with tighter restrictions in a saner, less politicized environment. Yes. What will help patients more, better monitoring of risks and benefits of meds post market using 21st century science or a system gripped by fear and controlled by trial lawyers and self proclaimed consumer advocates who dredge data for danger?

On a lighter front, Crestor just got a label for atherosclerosis, a label which simvastatin generic Zocor, Stephanie Saul's drug of choice does not have. Simvastatin also seems to cause sleep problems in some patients which I am surprised Stephanie didn't know about since she is the NYT in house expert on sleep.

I hearken back to her article about Pfizer trying to maintain market share in the face of simvastatin competition and the firm trying to use the fact that patients respond differently to different drugs as a way to keep more people on Lipitor if its good for them in the long run. How about this as a proposition: not what's cheapest, but what is best and has the fewest side effects given our specific health needs. As we move towards personalized medicine those will be the claims that count. Or is that marketing too? In a politicized environment our choice is as follows: A drug that is marketed by drug companies is bad even if it is personalized. A drug dispensed according the musings ofJerry Avorn or some researcher who ignores individual differences in drug response to justify the cheapest (the Soros funded approach of the Institute for Medicine as Profession)..that's great.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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