Merck Jerked

A Texas jury rules against Merck & Co., awarding $253.4 million in damages to the widow of a man who died of causes that have not been linked to the withdrawn painkiller Vioxx.

From Forbes:

By one line of thinking, it should have been an easy case, because the patient was said to have died of an arrhythmia, a type of heart problem that Vioxx has not been shown to cause. But Mark Lanier, the lawyer for plaintiff Carol Ernst, was able to convince the jury that her husband Robert, a triathlete, died of a heart attack. "This was my race for Robert," she told CNBC.

"The fact that Merck lost, and that the award was sizable, will likely energize the plaintiffs' [attorneys] and will increase the frequency at which the company gets sued," wrote Timothy Anderson of Prudential Equity Group. "Investors should prepare for a multiyear legal battle."

This is only the first of many cases against Merck. In the coming months, a case will be heard in New Jersey. And the first federal case against Merck will be tried in New Orleans in November. After that, there are some 4,000 other state and federal cases. That number is expected to swell to 10,000 or more.

David R. Henderson and Charles L. Hooper gave the case against the case back in January.

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  • ||

    What I want to know is who is the screw-up in Merck's legal department who has apparently failed to send these cases to MDL Hell? (MDL = Multi-District Litigation)

  • M1EK||

    I took Vioxx for two years to attempt to manage arthritis and had to go off it due to stomach problems (I'm 33 now).

    So, in a way, Vioxx is responsible for MY BILE. How much is that worth in court?

  • Morat||

    Of course, the verdict is fairly likely to get chunked on appeal, and even if it isn't, the size of the award is likely to be shrunk dramatically.

    But that'll be page A27 news five years from now, if it's in the papers at all.

    Ah, the media. So quick with today, so slow with history.

  • MP||

    Damn...I never thought I had a case against Merck, but if I can prove how much M1EK's daily bile has cause me distress...I see millions!

  • ||

    Well you know they have to do everything big in Texas. Because everybody's always trying to mess with them, you see.


    SR -- According to the article, the first federal case won't kick off till Nov. Not sure why you'd think going to MDL is preferable even if the case were eligible (couldn't tell from the article whether it was state or fed case).

    All it takes is one good ruling in one state somewhere and you can start mowing down the rest of 'em. Obviously, a loss in one state is a setback, but its not the end of the world. Especially given that analysts have projected much bigger losses in Vioxx litigation down the road. If Merck takes a few swings at getting favorable rulings to where they can start to work out an across-the-board defense that can work for them in multiple jurisdictions, it can get out of this thing with only a fraction of the liability that's been projected. I think its well worth going to the wall in a couple states first. Maybe they'll come up big on the next one in NJ and create themselves a blueprint for winning the other cases.

    The advantage the defense always has, is it gets to keep litigating the same case over and over till it gets everything right. The plaintiffs will kibbitz and publish their results, but on the whole, its better to be the defense, especially when you get to the 10th, 15th, 25th, etc. of the same case.

    A lot of times, big companies like this that face numerous identical suits in lots of states (typically, on the same type of contract like a particular term in a credit card agreement that's being disputed by consumers) can get a win or two, then slam the door all around the country on everything else that comes along after. Probably the way they're going.

  • ||

    I still say this article is a joke. You can't talk about this subject without mentioning these two warning letters from the FDA to Merck.

    1999
    2001

    Twice they had to be warned to stop misrepresenting the info. From a legal point of view, this was the kind of error on their part that any 16 year old kid who has had a bad day in the principals office could have told you was going to bite them on the ass.

    I have also pointed out that the Celebrex, the other COX-2 drug, my have problems because of the CLASS study problem.

    Bottom line, those warning letters work like a confession on a jury.

    Yes, the decision is ridiculous, but nonetheless, totally expected if you play poker.

    I do think some people would be served well by Vioxx, but as someone who has actually reviewed the data, only about 1 in 10 folks who are taking COX-2 drugs, should actually be taking them. Merck played a round of poker with marketing on this one and lost. Inevitable, even with a more corporate friendly court system.

    A little bit like a London Police Chief not wanting a certain shooting investigated outside of the London Police department right now. He may not be guilty, but can London afford to hold?

    Life is poker. Play the odds or play with the odds, the odds will get you every time.

  • M1EK||

    Skeptikos,

    This sounds exactly like the John Edwards vs. pool-company case. I don't know how anybody can look at what these companies did and say they didn't deserve to be bitch-slapped by the justice system...

  • ||

  • ||

    Viox is a Godsend to people like my aunt who suffer from arthritis. The alternative is to take aspirin or opiates both of which eventually will eat a hole in your stomach. Perhaps to someone in wrenching pain from arthritis and who likes the joys of a fully functioning stomach the small risk of a heart attack is worth taking. They of course won't get to make that choice now because of the plaintiff's bar and a brain dead jury in Texas. I hope the widow and Mark Lanier enjoy their blood money.

  • ||

    I don't know that case...MIEK...but....the worst part of it for me, is Vioxx is a good drug for some, but for a lot of people there were pushing it towards, it was inappropiate.

    Although this decision is still questionable. But they had a blockbuster on their hands, they had a pair (and not of aces) and they decided to bluff, and the bluff got called.

  • ||

    John,

    There is Celebrex, the other Cox-2. It is true that Vioxx was "slightly" more effective, but Celebrex also had slightly less related heart trauma as well as GI issues.

    Personally, the most effective treatment I'm aware of is a certain illegal herb (the one the constitution is written on), that when made into tea is "reported to have a postive effect, on both arthritis and stomach upset"

  • ||

    Prescription drugs are too expensive. They should nationalize healthcare so that we can all afford them.

    Stupid corporations, they're all just in it for the money.

  • ||

    Skeptikos,

    Like Phen/Fen and nearly every other drug on the market, I am sure Viox has been madly over perscribed. The shame is that the people whom Viox helped will no longer have access to the drug because its going to be sued out of existence.

  • ||

    Trail lawyers of the world unite! Viox caused my baldness. I was watching the Treasure of Sierra Madre the other night and now understand the jury's verdict, "facts, we don't need no facts."

  • ||

    We live in a world that has illness. And those illnesses have to be fought by drug companies with drugs. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Skeptikos? Merck has a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for the plaintiff and you curse the pharmaceutical companies. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what Merck knows: that his death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And Merck's existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives... You don't want the truth because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want Merck on that wall. You need Merck on that wall.

    Merck uses words like research, development, marketing... Merck uses these words as the backbone to a life spent fighting illness. You use them as a punchline. Merck has neither the time nor the inclination to explain itself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very health care Merck provides, then questions the manner in which Merck provides it! Merck would rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, Merck suggests you pick up a pipette and stand a post. Either way, Merck doesn't give a damn what you think you're entitled to!

  • ||

    MikeP

    YOU NEED ME IN THAT LAB!!!

  • ||

    Lawsuits are the Invisible Hand's way of bitchslapping you.

    If healthcare was nationalized, who would we sue? The gub'mint?!

  • ||

    Stupid corporations, they're all just in it for the money.

    I know! And they sit there in their corporation buildings, and, and see, they're all corporation-y, and they make money.

  • ||

    "Not sure why you'd think going to MDL is preferable even if the case were eligible (couldn't tell from the article whether it was state or fed case)."

    Well, except for suits brought in its state of incorporation and where its principal place of business is, Merck should be able to remove most of the rest to federal court on diversity grounds, as I am sure that the damages sought in most cases will be well over the jurisdictional requirement of $75,000. MDL is usually desireable in mass torts both because it saves on defense costs and because the MDL panel typically sends cases to judges who are more willing to dispose of claims at the pretrial phase.

  • Calling Bullshit Dep't||

    By one line of thinking, it should have been an easy case, because the patient was said to have died of an arrhythmia, a type of heart problem that Vioxx has not been shown to cause.

    It was the plaintiff's burden to show causation. The jury felt the plaintiff did. It is difficult to understand what te author means when he writes "has not been shown to cause."

    Maybe he means, "has not been shown to cause (by a mere preponderance) other than at the trial." If that is what he means: so what, what's the beef? Why would the plaintiff have to first prove his case outside of the trial and then repeat that proof at the trial? Makes no sense.

  • ||

    Ah hit and run, where you can get your sarcasm from the left (mediageek) or the right (MikeP).

  • ||

    Mike P: You might not quite be Ayn Rand's intellectual heir, but you do seem to have inherited her sense of humor.

    I'm sure Merck & Co. can speak for itself, though probably not as uh, passionately as presented in the Galtean speech you channeled in your post. Although if your given name is actually Michael P. Merck, please accept my apologies in advance.

  • ||

    Hey, if that was sarcasm, then I'm the one without a sense of humor! That means... oh, shit.

  • ||

    Calling BS Dept,
    I think what the author meant was that Vioxx has been shown in clinical studies to be associated with increased risk of myocardial infarction, not arrhythmia. So the plaintiff had to convince the jury that 1) the patient died of an MI, not an arrhythmia, and 2) the MI was a result of the patient's use of Vioxx. In other words, if there were existing evidence that Vioxx could cause a fatal arrhythmia, that might have made the plaintiff's case easier.

    That said, I think the more difficult part of the case is the second point, that his use of Vioxx caused the injury. Even if he did die of an MI, the relative contibution of Vioxx is probably confounded with many other contibuting factors, genetic and environmental. I'm not a legal scholar, so I'm not sure what the burden of proof is for something like this. Does the plaintiff merely have to show by preponderance of evidence that Vioxx contributed (at all) to the MI? Or that use of Vioxx led directly to (i.e., was a necessary and sufficient condition for) the MI? These are obviously very different things. The Forbes article doesn't give a very good description of the specifics. Any lawyers here?

  • Legal Dep't||

    I am a lawyer (albeit not TX).

    The deal, TomSleeping, is that the jury decides and you don't second guess them on the basis that plaintiff could not fund a broad cross-sectional medical study. If the jury doesn't require that, then neither can you.

    If Merck had an unbiased medical study that indicated that Vioxx does not cause arrythmia, then that might be a valid reason to second guess the jury.

    However, from the excerpt, it looks like the arrythmia studies that the Forbes author is seeking were either: (1) not conducted; or (2) inconclusive. Like CBD said, if either of these is the case, so what? If the jury didn't need such studies to find its preponderance (for the layity: 50.1% confidence level at least), then neither should the Forbes author.

  • More From The Legal Dep't||

    It is also possible that Merck submitted the studies, but the jury thought they were biased or otherwise not credible.

    KWICKIE KWIZ
    Can you imagine why a jury might find Merck's studies less than credible when it comes to Vioxx?

  • ||

    Thanks LD. But I think, reading between the author's lines (and adding what I know about the drug's toxicity), the issue is not that studies of a relationship b/w Vioxx and arrhythmia were inconclusive, but that in all post-marketing surveillance there was never any indication that Vioxx caused arrhythmias, so the plaintiff had to work the case around the idea that he died of an MI instead, i.e., that the cause of death was something other than what was assumed to be the cause of death before the case. At least, this is what it sounds like he's saying.

    But on the second point, do you know if the plaintiff has to show that the death would not have occurred if not for the Vioxx, or just that Vioxx may have contributed in some (small) way?

  • ||

    Re: Kwickie kwiz,

    Because juries hate corporations. They're all about, you know, making money and stuff.

  • Legal Dep't||

    Wrong. Rather it is because Merck has a history of playing fast & loose when it comes to Vioxx. At a more general level, Merck has an obvious economic motive to distort such studies.

    TomSleeping: stay in acct'g!

  • Legal Dep't||

    Also TomSleeping:
    When second guessing juries, it is best not to read between the lines of Forbes authors. That makes you look like you are determining the facts based on the personalities involved, rather than sworn testimony. That's a trial lawyer no-no.

  • Gil Roth||

    As a pharma business-writer (it's only a trade magazine), my big question is: Who's going to be out more money, Merck or Pfizer?

    Merck's going to get sued to bejesus because of Vioxx, but Pfizer acquired Pharmacia for $55-60 billion mainly to gain control of their Cox-2 co-development franchise (Celebrex, and its followup Bextra). With the franchise getting radically devalued, Pfizer may have to write off a massive amount of that acquisition (as in, 10s of billions).

  • ||

    Well, it's just that there weren't many facts (of the case) in that article, and I'm not the only one who was confused by that sentence. I found this in the Miami Herald:

    "The coroner who performed an autopsy on Ernst testified that Ernst more than likely had a blood clot that led to a heart attack. She didn't note either in her report because, she said, vigorous CPR likely dislodged the clot and he died of an irregular heartbeat too fast for his heart to show damage. A pathologist testified for Merck that there was no evidence of either a clot or a heart attack."

    http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/business/national/12362129.htm

    So I'll buy that MI was likely the cause of death, and that Merck tried to defend itself by pointing out that there was no direct evidence of an MI and it wasn't recorded in the chart. But you can see where there's some uncertainty about this, right?

    Also, when second-guessing the motives of scientists, it's best not to play the "economic motive" card too early. (BTW, I'm a pharmacologist, not an accountant) I know quite a few industry scientists, including clinical pharmacologists/toxicologists, and they get paid well, to do their job well. I find it hard to believe that a slight increase in pay (salary, profit-sharing, etc.) that might result from selling a little more Vioxx would be enough to corrupt a large number of people into intentionally lying about or covering up a serious toxicity risk from one of their products. That may sound naive, but scientists are trained in an "honor system" mentality that must exist if scientific knowledge is to be of general benefit.

    Merck "dragged its feet" on the Vioxx/MI question because, well, it was considered to be an open question until last year. Even the "damning" FDA letter in 2001 admits the possibility that the increase in MI in subjects treated with Vioxx compared with naproxen may have been attributable to a protective effect of naproxen (for which there already existed at least SOME evidence) as easily as it could have been attributed to a toxic effect of Vioxx. Because the effect was so small, very large controlled trials were needed to confirm that Vioxx caused the toxicity. Merck could have "played it safe" and withdrawn the product earlier, but where do you draw the line on standards of withdrawing drugs from market, remembering that the stricter the standard, the fewer (life-saving) drugs are available to patients?

  • ||

    Gil Roth,

    Hard to determine, as a former consultant to big pharma, I never really believed that Pfizer was actually after the cox-2 platform. It was pretty clear (and remember, Pfizer had co-marketing agreement with Searle prior to the Pharmacia merger, and they had full access to all studies) that parecoxib (Bextra) and valdecoxib were in trouble, way before the offer for Pharmacia was even made. I believe it was the massive sales of Celebrex (celecoxib) that will continue for some time. Although I cannot remember right now when the patent runs out. Right now I'm betting Merck. Last time I checked, Celebrex was still selling briskly (by general standards, even if sales have gone down).

    Legal Dep't,
    Thanx for that. I don't know why no one gets this, if they want to be mad, they should be mad at the completely jack shit nuts risk Merck took on the back door marketing.

    That being said, it is a real shame that Vioxx is off the market, when appropiate, it's a good drug.

    Lastly, PEOPLE. After talking to literaly thousands of people involved in Pharma...THEY ARE NOT OUT TO CURE YOUR DISEASE. THEY DO NOT CARE. This is not insulting them. They are out to make a buck, the researchers who want to help you are on the bottom of the food chain. The people on top are just managers. They could just as easily work for Chevy.

    It is just capitalism. If they could they would sell you snake oil (which I personally have no problem with).

    LIKE YOUR MOTHER TOLD YOU...DON'T TRUST STRANGERS.

    Actually this is why this all happened, we all trust strangers. That said, the pharma industry, like all industies does good work. But not for you...FOR YOU MONEY...that's why capitalism works.

    If you mistrust politicians good, if you mistrust bisinessmen, good, DON'T trust anyone you don't personally know.

  • ||

    I don't know how the jury got $24 million in actual damages on a 59 year old man. That's a puzzler. But for the $200 million+ they came up with in punitives, they obviously found some serious wrongdoing by Merck. And its not like Texas is some great haven for plaintiff lawyers. If it was Los Angeles or someplace like that, I'd be more comfortable writing off this verdict as a fluke.

    Coupled with analysts' estimates of tens of billions in liability, that tells me the analysts also believe there is some wrongdoing that's going to lead to punitives in other cases.

    Personally i have no idea what to believe, but i do know the analysts who value these sorts of things for Wall Street don't fall off turnip trucks.

    SR -- I did a little reading on Merck's other Vioxx suits, and apparently they have sent some of the other claims to an MDL panel. So for whatever reason, this one either didn't qualify or they felt like keeping it where it was.

  • ||

    True ambivalence on my part. I hate the pharm. companies for making us think it takes millions of dollars in research to come up w/ a sound medical solution to problems that often times could be remedied if the Dr.s (who I also hate) would have enough balls to tell their patients to get off their duffs, take a jog and lay off the junk food... but they don't. Their meds. end up being DANGEROUS and not all that good (ok. makes my wrists feel better, but, DAMN! my gut hurts!) And I hate the trial lawyers who prey on grieving wives and families of people who also should have gotten off their duffs and exercised, laughed, eaten right and studied the cause of their disease.

    THAT BEING SAID: I know not all diseases can be cured w/ exercise and good nutrition... my husband has Stills Disease (adult onset of JRA)... he's a fed... works out... eat right and would likely have really benefitted from Vioxx later in life.

    Shruggin' my shoulders... what are you going to do???

    Live well. Laugh often. Love much.


    fulloflove

  • Gil Roth||

    Through 2Q2005, Celebrex's sales are down 46% (to $813 million) and Bextra's are down 97% (to $14 million), compared to the previous year. I'm not saying that Pfizer didn't know the Cox-2 drugs might be risky, but that they weighed the risk against a large part of the purchase price of Pharmacia.

    They're starting to pay for that now, as they implemented a $4 billion cost-cutting program a few months ago. Between that and the "cost-savings" of combining workforces, there's a ton of money being shed over this.

  • Rhetorical Questions Dep't||

    Gil's and Skep's posts got me thinking.

    With all these big numbers and big gambles, do you think the pharmaceutical market is too consolidated?

    In other words, if there were less patent protection and a few antitrust shake-ups, do you think this market would function better or worse, on the whole?

  • ||

    M1EK,

    Please answer Handbrake Charlie's post of August 18, 2005 05:54 PM


    You've conveniently ignored it.

  • ||

    A better title for the article might be "Merck Jacked". I am sad for the widow, but I wonder, how long the pharmaceutical companies will continue to develop new drugs. Especially, with the risk of any unconnected illness becoming a potential lawsuit lottery. I think the outcome is totally "whacked". I want my medical marijuana please.

  • ||

    I'm not that familiar with Texas law viz reducing jury verdicts, but I imagine the award will be substantially reduced.

  • ||

    And its not like Texas is some great haven for plaintiff lawyers. If it was Los Angeles or someplace like that, I'd be more comfortable writing off this verdict as a fluke.

    Not true. Rural areas of Texas are as much a haven for plaintiff lawyers as anyplace else in the country.

  • ||

    THAT BEING SAID: I know not all diseases can be cured w/ exercise and good nutrition

    If by "not all" you mean "very few," then sure, yeah.

  • Gil Roth||

    [D]o you think the pharmaceutical market is too consolidated?

    I don't believe it is. As big as Pfizer is, it doesn't control more than 11-12% of the Pharma market.

    I've written a few editorials at my day job contending that Pfizer mirrors the Yankees, in certain respects, but the market and the existing patent laws are going to whomp Pfizer pretty hard in the next few years.

    Keep in mind: till the merger of Aventis & Sanofi, which was pushed forward by the French government for the sake of creating a "national champion", Merck was the 3rd largest Pharma in terms of drug revenues. This year, it fell to fifth.

    There's still plenty of competition in the business, and one of the key reasons for that is that R&D productivity simply doesn't follow a linear curve. Having a huge company with giant revenues doesn't guarantee you'll come up with good products from your pipeline.

    In the case of Pfizer, that massive cash flow DOES enable it to buy in other companies' promising products, but that can put you right back in the Yankees' current predicament: having so much invested in "free agents" (in-licensed products) rather than the "farm system" (internal development) that you end up in a vicious cycle of having to overpay for yet more external projects.

    As long as Lipitor stays safe and keeps finding new indications, the company will be okay, but patent law dictates that Lipitor's gotta go generic SOMEtime, at which point its contribution to Pfizer's bottom line will fall off a cliff, like Bernie Williams.

    Sorry to be so specific and not address the woes facing the rest of the industry, but in short I think that consolidation hasn't caused the current crisis in Pharma productivity.

  • ||

    One point that I have noticed is that it is not so much that behavior of Merck's R&D department that is causing the lawsuits, but rather that of the marketing departments. I have always felt that the basis of product liability law should be "tell the truth and you are not liable". In this case, it seems that Merck did the proper testing and proper reporting to the FDA, but that its marketers played fast and loose with the truth. While avoiding outright lying, they were being quite misleading. Merck should immediately fire all the heads of that department and re-evaluate its share of the industry's aggressive marketing policy.

  • ||

    but I wonder, how long the pharmaceutical companies will continue to develop new drugs

    I would venture to suppose they'll do it at least as long as they continue to be one of the two highest profit-margin businesses in the USA (insurance being the other; I dont' recall which is #1 and which is #2).

    Don't believe the hype. All those scare campaigns you hear are well funded, funded by those very same insane profits. I'm not begrudging anyone the right to make a profit; far from it. All i am saying is, they make more than enough to fund big-media poor-mouth campaigns.

  • ||

    The Pharmaceutical industry will get no sympathy from me. By bribing the FDA and the AMA not to mention our elected representatives in Washington these drug companies have been allowed to put dangerous drugs, not to mention vaccines, on the market. They?re also guilty of trying to eliminate the natural supplement industry by any means. I hope they get sued out of existence.

  • David Rollins||

    While I've enjoyed these comments, I'm wondering what your prescription is for the out of control tort system. I've always wondered why big pharma and big tobacco don't simply stop selling product in states such as Mississippi (home of jackpot justice). Sure they would take a hit in sales, but one would hope the populace would get the message, and the resulting reforms would lower the cost of doing business for all.

    For the lawyers here: if people drove over the border to get their Vioxx, any suit in that state would be thrown out, right?

  • ||

    Fulloflove,
    I'd never heard of Still's disease. Googling it, I read the cause is unknown. My guess it is an STD caused when you can't be with the one you love Honey, love the one you're with.

  • M1EK||

    John,

    "The alternative is to take aspirin or opiates both of which eventually will eat a hole in your stomach. "

    I went off Vioxx because of what it was doing to my stomach. Sorry, no silver bullet here. (It did take about two years to become unbearable though).

  • M1EK||

    Thomas Paine's Goiter:

    I'll answer it here. I didn't 'ignore' it; I rarely go back and contribute to threads which have aged off the main page.

    His examples show a couple which lack courtesy, and a couple which I'd argue with. Nevertheless, I do not find one in particular in which I drastically escalated discourtesy with somebody -- i.e., in each instance it appears to ME that they got what they deserved.

    Pick ONE and let me know why you think otherwise.

    Hint: Saying somebody 'ignored' a thread that old is discourteous in and of itself - it implies malice when none is necessarily present. I've resisted the urge to respond in kind; this is your one free shot.

  • ||

    All the examples Handbrake Charlie chose were from previous threads, so I'll toss in the most blantant example of M1EK's discourtesy** on the hurricanes thread. A poster named alkurta made two posts, the first with four claims/questions about global warming, and the second asking for a response since no one had responded to that point. While his/her posts showed considerable ignorance on the topic, they were very politely worded. Your response was to make an incredibly sarcastic comment about how scientists had taken the factors he/she mentioned into account, and then to say that posters you considered to be as ignorant as alkurta shouldn't be allowed to participate in the threads. I think that qualifies as "drastically escalating discourtesy."

    And regarding your little "hint" - that thread is not off the main page, and you posted to the thread after Handbrake Charlie had posted his list; in fact, you responded to my post which was made after his. So yeah, you ignored it.

    **specifically directed at a single individual, instead of everyone on the list. And regarding your response to me on that thread, while it's certainly true that people often paint with a broad brush in their comments, virtually no one else beyond the occasional troll just passing through insults everyone on the board with no qualifiers, as you did.

  • M1EK||

    "Your response was to make an incredibly sarcastic comment about how scientists had taken the factors he/she mentioned into account, and then to say that posters you considered to be as ignorant as alkurta shouldn't be allowed to participate in the threads. I think that qualifies as "drastically escalating discourtesy.""

    Oh, come on. You're telling me that if somebody demanded that you justify the theory of gravity, you wouldn't be sarcastic?

    The guy WAS ignorant. That's a matter of fact. People who repeat the denier arguments frmo ten years ago (which has been refuted) ARE ignorant. This is not being discourteous; it's an accurate description of their behavior.

    And pointing out that the ideological (anti-statist) biases of most Reason readers are making them fall for foolish stuff on issues like climate change is (a) true and (b) something that other people have noted (Jennifer, for one).

  • M1EK||

    Oh, and as for 'ignored' - I had not seen Handbrake Charlie's post until today. You can choose to believe me or not; but it's the truth. Threads lower on the front page get less interest from me. If I went back to post another comment, I probably didn't bother reading the entire set of new stuff.

  • ||

    I died about 12 years ago from an overdose of medical marijuana , but I`m feeling alot better now.

  • ||

    Yeah, he/she was ignorant; I acknowledged that in my last post. That doesn't change the fact that, when someone politely and non-aggressively asks questions on a topic, even if those questions reveal considerable ignorance on the topic, and you respond like a sarcastic prick, you've pretty obviously committed a breach of basic courtesy. And ignorance concerning the reality of gravity is maybe just a wee tad different than ignorance concerning extremely complex modeling that only a tiny fraction of people really understand in a meaningful way on a topic that remains contentious (at least among politicians and the popular media, where the vast majority of people will get their information about it). In fact, they're not even in the same ballpark. Or on the same planet. I find it exceptionally hard to believe that you really consider that to be a meaningful comparison.

    "And pointing out that the ideological (anti-statist) biases of most Reason readers..."
    Including the word "most" there was downright responsible of you. It would have been ever so keen if you'd chosen to include such a qualifier in your initial insults to which I was responding. For future reference, you may also want to consider adding words such as "some," "often," and "certain" to your repertoire, using them as appropriate. It would make your statements more accurate, and - dare I say it? - more courteous.

    Also, it may be useful for you to know that not everyone who makes a statement you disagree with, even if you really, truly, honest-to-god KNOW deep down in your heart of hearts that they're wrong, is a liar. (If you're not sure what I'm talking about, consult Handbrake Charlie's post and the rest of the hurricanes thread.) As you so eloquently stated above, that implies malice when none is necessarily present.

  • ||

    To everyone who showed up looking for more posts about Merck, sorry for continuing the threadjack. I won't waste any more of my or anyone else's time continuing this line, except to say that I get a bit riled up about it because I think this sort of unprovoked jackassery (assuming anyone who shows any ignorance deserves to be sarcastically belittled, or that anyone who disagrees with you is a liar, evil, etc.) is by far the biggest impediment to intelligent, informative, enjoyable discussion on these threads. I also complained about it several times to Gary Gunnels. I have to admit that, even though he often had very interesting posts, I wasn't too sorry to see him banned; too often he seemed to generate much more heat than light. In his newest personality, Hakluyt (?), he seems to have toned it down a fair bit, which is much appreciated.

  • M1EK||

    "That doesn't change the fact that, when someone politely and non-aggressively asks questions on a topic, even if those questions reveal considerable ignorance on the topic, and you respond like a sarcastic prick,"

    It's clear to me that the original poster wasn't doing that to educate themselves. Was it not clear to you? Have you spent a lot of time arguing climate change before? Here's a hint: the same stuff comes up over and over again as part of the disorganized disinformation campaign. It's not an accident, and it's not innocent.

    "Also, it may be useful for you to know that not everyone who makes a statement you disagree with, even if you really, truly, honest-to-god KNOW deep down in your heart of hearts that they're wrong, is a liar."

    Yes, that's true. But it's not worth wasting your time with people who ARE posting lies; except to point out when that's the case. And that happens a hell of a lot on environmental issues here on H&R, for obvious ideological reasons.

    "unprovoked jackassery "

    We can differ on the jackassery, but you know damn well I consider it to be 'provoked', and so, ironically enough, your statement here qualifies as an example of what it decries.

  • M1EK||

    "is by far the biggest impediment to intelligent, informative, enjoyable discussion on these threads"

    Oh, you know what's REALLY the biggest impediment to intelligent, informative, enjoyable discussion on these threads?

    It's pricks like the folks on the environmental threads who lie and/or dissemble. Seriously. That's why the 'provoked jackassery' is necessary. Imagine if you kept having to defend heliocentrism against literal bible-believers over and over and over again, and people kept bringing up arguments which have been long-since debunked, and you know they know it, but they post it anyways, and you know the reason they're doing it is to throw up a chaff screen of bullshit so that nobody can see that they're really just trying to divert attention.

    You'd really sit there and patiently and reasonably answer the "world is flat" arguments every single time? You'd be wasting your time AND the time of your readers. Because the guys on the other side _know_ _what_ _they're_ _doing_. They _want_ you to waste your time that way.

    http://www.csicop.org/doubtandabout/abuses/

    http://www.lib.niu.edu/ipo/ii010432.html
    (note "deliberate misinformation")

  • ||

    It's clear to me that the original poster wasn't doing that to educate themselves . . . Here's a hint: the same stuff comes up over and over again as part of the disorganized disinformation campaign. It's not an accident, and it's not innocent.

    Here's another hint. This one's free.

    Assuming that it is true that one side of the argument -- the oil-company-funded, has-the-media-in-its-hand side -- is the one controlling the agenda, then it is entirely possible -- in fact, so much more likely than not that the word "inevitable" becomes appropriate -- that people who have only a dilettante's interest in the topic will have been exposed only to that side, making the appearance of that information from the metaphorical mouths of multiple posters both accidental and innocent.

    Or, I suppose everyone else in the world besides you is part of a VAST ORGANIZED DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN. Yes. That seems much more likely.

  • ||

    We have a break-out! We have a break-out!

    Our disinformation campaign has been discovered by ... wait, I have his name written down somewhere. It must be in my files. Be right back.

    Nope. Wait a minute. Must have left it somewhere on my desk.

    Damn! Hold on ...

    Oh! Here it is. It was on this sticky-note on my computer monitor.

    M1EK! M1EK is the one that has discovered our disinformation campaign. Assemble the task force immediately!

  • ||

    Man is this depressing. Ok, here's a question that is probably extremely naive:

    Why can't pharma corps just put a warning label on every bottle of pills that says something to the effect of "Use at your own risk," and "May cause death," or "May cause adverse reactions in a small number of people."

    MikeP, that was priceless!

  • M1EK||

    Phil,

    "Or, I suppose everyone else in the world besides you is part of a VAST ORGANIZED DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN. "

    No, but certain posters HERE are involved in efforts to willfully mislead because to tell the truth would lead to a solution which doesn't fit with their anti-statist ideology. That's all I've claimed, it's eminently reasonable, and I'm not the only one here who has said it.

  • ||

    All you people who carry on like jurors give a crap about things like causation and actual damages just crack me up. You obviously haven't spent any time around a real trial.

    The plaintiff's lawyer in this case was pretty typical, from what I saw. He didn't waste the juror's time with a lot of clinical information and facts. He got them good and mad at Merck and how much money it has, and they did what jurors do.

    They gave a bunch of Merck's money to the sad lady because she was, you know, sad. That's about the depth of the mentation in most of these jury trials, sad to say.

  • Balance Dep't||

    As opposed to the FDA, who had sort of an opposite reaction to all Merck's money.

  • ||

    Skepticos,

    Thanks for the reply, but unfortunately you did everything but answer my question. You wrote:

    "To use any medicinal herbs or pharmaceuticals correctly, you need the easily obtainable info on how it works on humans. . .Both drugs that have their own safety profiles to be assessed against the patients history. Without that knowledge, with only a "disclaimer" it is difficult to know which to take."

    I agree with you, but this is a strange reply to my question, because my question obviously did not imply in any way that the risk disclaimer would be the *only* information available to the patient on the risks, safety and efficacy of drugs.

    What I have in mind are the facts that with some drugs there are some adverse effects that will only affect a very small number of people, or will affect a large number of people but have only a very small effect, or the effect will only be evident after years or decades of use.

    I guess what I'm saying is that no one should ever be under the illusion that just because a drug is FDA-approved that all its risks (or benefits) are already known, and there should be a disclaimer reminding consumers that they are in fact assuming some risk.

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