Tuesday, September 06, 2005

By now, y'all have probably heard that Merck, maker of the infamous Vioxx, got slapped with a jury verdict for a whopping $253.5 million, including punitive damages of $229 million. But did you hear that, under Texas law, that punitive verdict is automatically cut to $1.6 million? Let's put it in perspective:
$11.772 Billion: The total worldwide sales of Vioxx from the time it was introduced in 1999 to the time it was removed from the market in 2004.

1999: $472 million ["S&P Affirms Ratings on Merck & Co.; Outlook Stable," Standard & Poor's press release, Business Wire, 2/23/00]

2000: $2.2 billion ["Merck's Strong Performance in 2000 Driven by Five Key Medicines, Chairman Ray Gilmartin Tells Stockholders," Merck & Co., Inc. press release, Business Wire, 4/24/01]

2001: $2.6 billion ["Merck's Continued Focus on Innovation Will Drive Growth, Merck Chairman Tells Stockholders," Merck & Co., Inc. press release, Business Wire, 4/23/02]

2002: $2.5 billion [Merck & Co., Inc Annual Report, 2002, p. 24]

2003: $2.5 billion [Merck & Co., Inc Annual Report, 2003, p.19]

2004: $1.5 billion ["Cholesterol Drugs on Top," Med Ad News, Vol.24 No.5, May 2005]
$505 Million: The amount Merck spent ($505,207,440) on direct to consumer advertising for Vioxx. ["The new face of consumer advertising," Med Ad News, 24(6):1, June 2005, "Consumer ads reach peak, Med Ad News," Pg. 1(8) Vol. 21 No. 6, June 2002, "Direct-to-consumer spending by brand," Med Ad News, Pg. 46 Vol. 19 No. 6, June 2000]

$37.8 Million: The amount Merck's Chief Executive Officer, Raymond Gilmartin made ($37.775 million) in 2004 from a salary, bonus, and stock options that he cashed-in. He was paid a base salary of $1,600,008, and received a bonus of $1,375,000. In addition to this salary and bonus, Gilmartin made $34.8 million by exercising stock options that he previously received from the company. It should also be noted that Merck gave Gilmatin additional stock options in 2004, estimated to be valued at $19.2 million. [Merck & Co. 2005 Proxy Statement, p.24-25; USA Today, 3/30/05; Washington Post, 3/22/05; The New York Times, 5/6/05]

$30.4 Million: The amount Merck spent ($30,390,294) lobbying Members of Congress and Federal agencies between 2000 and 2004. [The Center for Public Integrity]
$1.511 Million The amount Merck's Political Action Committee contributed ($1,511,885) to federal candidates since 1997. [Center for Responsive Politics, as of July 31, 2005]

$675 Million: The amount Merck has set aside to pay its corporate defense lawyers in Vioxx-related lawsuits. [Philadelphia Inquirer, 8/20/05]
Note that last statistic. And they call plaintiff's lawyers greedy?