The doctor, who had dismissed increased risk of heart attack associated with Vioxx, has been accused by lawyers who argue that his views are 'out of the mainstream' as it is based on biased research , funded by the drug company, Merck and Co.
Thomas Cona and John Mcdarby have sued the pharmaceutical company, stating that use of the drug had resulted in heart attacks. More than 10, 000 different lawsuits has been filed against the controversial Vioxx, on grounds of product liability. The product, originally intended for arthritis treatment was withdrawn from the market in the September of 2004.
The case was taken up for hearing recently. Attorney Mark Lanier questioned the motivation and educational qualifications of Merck expert witness Dr. Barry Rayburn during the cross-examination. He works as a cardiologist in the University of Alabama. He further stated that anyone who had not taken money from Merck would deserve to be called mainstream doctor.
The attorney who stands for Thomas Cona is the only who had won a case against Merck, last August. He enabled a Texas based widow, a user of Vioxx receive a multimillion-dollar jury award. Other similar trials that were taken up in the state and federal courts had ended up in favor of Merck.
Rayburn was peppered with questions about studies and articles that demonstrated an increased risk of heart attack in those who used Vioxx. This however was not included in the doctor's testimony that was submitted in the court on Tuesday. To this Rayburn responded by saying that some of the articles or studies cited by Lanier were not included in his testimony because he 'felt it was important to look at things that were peer reviewed. I also looked at many studies we have not talked about'.
The close scrutiny by several other experts in a specific field confers the peer-reviewed studies, a higher credibility. Every attempt is made to ensure that the study was indeed designed and conducted in a systematic way, to meet the industry standards. The cardiologist pointed out to the study conducted on more than 28, 000 patients that had no evidence of increased heart attack or other cardiovascular complications.
In addition, Rob Gordon, a lawyer representing McDarby, grilled Rayburn about his legal work for Merck, his payment and involvement in other clinical trials conducted by the drug company.
Following a study, which showed for the first time that use of the drug for a period of 18 months, doubled the heart attack risk; the pain relief was withdrawn from the drug market.
The conclusion, according to the lawyers is that although it was known that the drug increased risk of heart attacks in users, the drug company failed to warn the users, compromising on patient safety for want of profit.