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Peter Rost, M.D., is a former Pfizer Marketing Vice President providing services as a medical device and drug expert witness and pharmaceutical marketing expert. Judge Sanders: "The court agrees with defendants' view that Dr. Rost is a very adept and seasoned expert witness." He is also the author of Emergency Surgery, The Whistleblower and Killer Drug. You can reach him on rostpeter (insert symbol) Please read the terms of use agreement and privacy policy for this blog carefully.

Merck Wins Fourth of Seven Vioxx Trials

Two days ago I wrote about fearsome, defense attorney Diane P. Sullivan, the dazzling lawyer who defends Merck, and who accused a little old lady for her own heart attack, in Celebrate Merck Day.

She didn't disappoint.

The jury agreed with Sullivan. The old lady was to blame herself, for her heart attack. They agreed with Sullivan that plaintiff led a sedentary life, was obese, suffered from diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and had a family history of heart disease. All of these contributed to her January 2004 heart attack.

As a doctor I can't really blame the jury. This one was a long shot to win and is likely to set up the framework for future litigation.

If you're fat, smoke and live life like a coach potato, your chances of winning the Vioxx lottery may be slim. Trouble is some of those people are bound to get heart attacks with or without Vioxx.

For a jury to decide on that is pretty difficult, and even if some of those obese people were hurt by Vioxx, they're not going to collect.

The victory was the fourth in seven Vioxx trials nationally for Merck, which will appeal the multimillion-dollar verdicts against it in the other three cases.

My guess is that plaintiffs without a lot of risk factors will continue to win in court.

One final thought.

I can't help but wonder what the New Jersey judge, Carol Higbee, (picture) who is overseeing thousands of Vioxx cases is thinking, when she hears about all those risk factors.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter, your comment about the judge is NOT NICE! For all you know she is disabled, in a wheelchair, and can NOT exercise. Or, she might have heart failure, Or, hungeroedema.

And I thought you were such a nice and gentle guy! And you are a doctor too. Disappointed in you.

Anonymous Rosethejet said...

Interesting information I hadn't heard before. Yep, she's a fat ole ugly woman lookin for money.

Well as you stated more elequently than I she does indeed appear to have brought upon herself.

What the hell were her attorney's thinking?

Anonymous Gary said...

Ms Rose

Did you know that some "food" products have been determined to be as addictive
as cocaine? McD's fries, anyone? The brain reacts the same way, some studies have shown.

A good deal of our prepackaged food is brought to us by Philip "just one L, please" Morris and RJR. Every hear of them? The experts at making products more addictive. Do not underestimate the evil in evil corporations.

Want to read something funny? Go to Try not to hurt yourself laughing. Notice that nowhere do they mention Hydrogenated veggy oil (trans fat, if you will). Biggest risk factor for heart attacks, diabetes and more since cigs. Check out

Poison, brought to you by Dupont, and promoted by your kindly old uncle, Sam.

Blogger beeta said...

I think half the drugs that are consumed are to combat the side effects of the foods we eat, not that I am defending the drugs here. There is a reason the agengy is called the Food and Drug Adminstration.

Blogger beeta said...

Welcome to MSM we have Miss Nora O'Donnell guest hosting on Hardball asking Miss Ann Coulter to share her views on the current headlines. I don't know why America keeps belly aching about the press....LOL

Blogger Peter Rost said...

In a way I agree with "Anonymous" since I know the issue about obesity is a touchy subject.

But we have to start talking about this. One in three Americans is obese, and only one in five people in the UK are obese.

The kind of morbid obesity seen in the US is almost unheard of in Europe.

This is not rocket science. It is bad habits: Too many soft drinks, cookies and french fries make you obese, not thin air, not lack of excercise. Just lack of a balanced diet. Sure, there are very rare exceptions.

The epidemic is about to start, when all the really obese kids reach adulthood. We are about to see people dying under their own weight.

So, clearly, the irony in my story is not lost on anyone, and it shouldn't be. We're killing ourselves with the wrong food. And the food industry is doing what they can to make us even fatter.

Morbid obesity is defined as being 100 lbs. or more over ideal body weight and should receive immediate medical intervention. As a doctor, I would hope the judge in this case gets the treatment needed, if not, she may suffer the consequences sooner than many of the plaintiffs.

Blogger MsMelody said...

Gary, Peter . . .

Causes of obesity can certainly be attributed to lifestyle. We ALL know we should eat 'better' and exercise more. But besides the addictive aspect of many foods being foisted on us--with the blessing of our FDA--we must consider impact of medicines.

Anti-diabetic drugs used to treat most Type 2 diabetes INCREASES appetite. When we're hungry, we eat more (than we need), and if we are T2, our "numbers" get worse, necessitating MORE antidiabetic medication. Insulin, too, used to treat Type 1, and eventually many Type 2's, also increases hunger--just ask a diabetic what his first concern is when his blood sugar plummets because of too much insulin. (Hint: it's food!)

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it is unfortunate that a jury based their decision on underlying risk factors--some of which may certainly have been exacerbated by the medication used to treat them. And unfortunately, obesity often is taken to be synonymous with slovenly, uncurbed excesses. Do you wonder if the outcome might have been different if the plaintiff had been 'heard' but not 'seen?' We have become such a shallow, visual-oriented society that we give more weight to appearances than to truth.

Bottom line, though, the risk-benefit ratio is something a patient, with input from his/her doctor must decide. I am certain that I might consider taking a dangerous pain-killer if pain precluded any sort of normalcy in my life. BUT I HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE FULLY INFORMED OF THE DANGERS. I think full, informed consent should be the underlying determinant for both the patient and the jury.

Relying on FDA approval is as non-sensical as the very agency itself.

Blogger beeta said...

Dr. Rost,
I do agree with you on principle, that a balanced diet goes a long way in maintaining ideal wieght, However; if you are being shot in the leg every other minute it makes the task much harder. You have God knows what is put in the food, from the time the seed is planted( genetic engineering anyone?)to what is used to grow it (chemicals), to what is used to kill the pests (chemicals) to how it is preserved(chemicals) and how it is distributed (more chemicals) to how little physical effort it takes to live here (no sidewalk, no stores near by in suburbs to walk to, drive thru everything, take out ready as easy as a phone call) to commercials on TV targeted at painstakingly researched right times to catch you at your weakest hour for bad food i.e. dinner, late night. All that and addictive agents silently put in the very food you are told it's bad for you but you can't help but want. I am not even going to go into the social structure and psychological factors that play into getting you to eat bad food (it takes two incomes to survive and running around like mad to make ends meet leaves no room to plan meals much less healthy ones, ohh and playing the corporate raider at work to add to the culture of consumerism leaves you a bit too cynical to come home and play the nurturer by worrying about your family's diet), and if all that don't get you, you are told everyday on the news about all the boogymen out there trying to get you, you know the terrorists, the rapists, the muggers, or just plain crazy folks who have gone crazy due to the previously mentioned factors and last but not least, our wonderful government who is trying to rub you, take your job away , abolish what little social safty net we had, and in no uncertain terms telling you "baby you are on your own" with it...and BTW you owe your soul and your children's and your grandchildren's to the banks cz sweety you have to pay this debt we just racked up.
You know one could easily say..."If I am going to be stranglled, chocked, scared to death and abolished to depts of the hell waiting for me....well...I could at least die fat and happy eating the food that
that is killing me" with it.

Blogger Rosethejet said...

Okay, my initial comment may have been unkind but hardly untruthful.

As for the last part, I still say what were her attornies thinking? They must have taken one look at her and her medical history and realized this was going to be, well not just an uphill battle, but right up the side of a cliff.

There are ideal clients in cases like these and she wasn't even in the ball park.

As for the food addiction? Sure I believe it happens, but as well I blame our leaders, our press and the people themselves.

We seem to have lost the will to tell people inconvienent truths and one of them is that we are given the wrong food to eat by corporations who have no desire to do the right thing, just what makes the most money. And they do just that by feeding (if you will pardon the pun) into the public's easily manipulated minds' what they should be eating.

We need a national movement started by real leaders (Not that I am holding my breath) who can get through to the people without sounding like Big Brother. I mean if the idiots in charge now can actually get a significant section of the population to say they would be willing to give up some constitutional rights for protection then this seems like a slam dunk as well.

I still can't believe ANYONE would say they would give up constitutional protections based on a false hope of security.

What was it B. Franklin said?

Those who would give up liberty for a little temporary safety deserve neither.

Something like that.


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