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Merck Board Names Committee on Vioxx Withdrawal

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Drug maker Merck & Co. Inc. on Tuesday said its board appointed a committee to review the company’s actions prior to the voluntary withdrawal of its painkiller Vioxx.

Millions of Americans had used Vioxx before Merck withdrew the drug on Sept. 30 after a study showed that long-term use of the medicine doubled heart attack and stroke risk. Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, said the committee also will act for the board in responding to shareholder litigation related to the drug’s withdrawal and advise it of any action that should be taken. William Bowen, president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and chair of the Merck board’s corporate governance committee, will chair the special committee. “Even though the FDA has noted that the company acted responsibly with respect to Vioxx, the board concluded that its responsibilities to Merck shareholders made it important to conduct an independent review in order to ensure that the company acted in an appropriate and ethical manner,” Bowen said in a statement. At the end of October, Merck said 1,000 plaintiff groups had filed Vioxx-related lawsuits against the company. Raymond Gilmartin, Merck’s chief executive, said the committee will have the complete cooperation of Merck management and the full resources it needs to conduct its assessment. John S. Martin Jr., of the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, has been retained by the special committee to assist with the independent review. Prior to joining Debevoise in 2003, Martin served for 13 years as the U.S. district judge for the Southern District of New York and for three years as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.(Source: Reuters, December 2004)

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Posted On: 8 December, 2004
Modified On: 7 December, 2013


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