Dechert helps Merck to victory in New Jersey Vioxx case

Dechert partner Diane Sullivan has scored a major victory for Merck & Co in the ongoing battle over rheumatoid arthritis drug Vioxx.

On 3 November, a New Jersey jury threw out the claims of an Idaho man who claimed that Vioxx was responsible for a heart attack he suffered in 2001. Dechert teamed up with New York firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed to represent Merck.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that an Eversheds team, headed by partner Kiko Carrión, is acting for Merck in Spain, where litigation over Vioxx is also threatened.

The New Jersey case is the second piece of Vioxx litigation to reach a verdict, following the August decision of a Texas jury to award $253m (£144.9m) in damages against Merck. That jury found Vioxx to have been responsible for causing cardiovascular damage, and ultimately death, to a patient.

The decision kick-started a wave of litigation across the world, with a number of UK firms becoming involved in filing claims on both sides of the Atlantic. Cases are also expected in European countries, including Germany.