May 29, 2008

Law Says To Science, "You're Kidding Me, Right? "

The $253M Vioxx verdict against Merck is overturned.

(It was actually only a reduced $26M verdict, but since the media didn't highlight that fact when Merck lost, I'm following in kind.)

Meanwhile, A New Jersey court removed a $9M punitive damages award in another case, and upheld another Merck verdict in another case.

The court found no evidence that Vioxx caused a fatal cardiac embolus, because-- surprise-- there isn't any evidence.  At best we have an association, not causation, and it may be that the Vioxx itself has nothing at all to do with death.  (Though I realize that the law accepts association as evidence.)

The score is now Merck 11, plaintiff's attorneys 3.

Question: well, what are they supposed to do when there's some evidence that a drug poses a health risk?  Ignore it?

Answer:  who is they?  There isn't supposed to be a they at all.  (There it is again, the steady creep of social democracy, sister of narcissism.)  There's a chemical, it exists, doctors are supposed to know when to use it appropriately.  Not to mention it may later be discovered to have additional value (aspirin, thorazine, thalidomide, etc.) 

When you create a body to decide for doctors whether a drug is worth the risk, then you are saying you do not trust doctors to make this assessment.  Therefore, you do not need doctors at all, you need flowcharts.

Unfortunately, I'll admit, they might be right.