Poker players learn to read the cards of the other players at the table by their actions. Betting patterns and other "tells" can permit a good poker player to understand the strength of his opponents' cards without ever seeing them. There have been only a handful of Vioxx trials, but the announced settlement of the Vioxx litigation provides strong tells as to the weakness of the plaintiffs' claims--and of the weaknesses of current pharmaceutical product liability law.
On November 9, 2007, in New Orleans, Merck agreed to the framework of a settlement of approximately 47,000 pending or tolled claims of personal injuries alleged to have been caused by Vioxx, which was withdrawn from the market in 2004 in the wake of studies showing increased cardiovascular risk for use of the painkiller. Subject to a walk-away right if certain thresholds for opt-ins are not met, Merck agreed to have a fixed $4.85 billion divvied up among plaintiffs. . . .
Ted Frank is a resident fellow at AEI and director of the Legal Center for the Public Interest.