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Monday, September 18, 2006

Merck tells workers not to discuss Vioxx in voicemails - MarketWatch: "Merck tells workers not to discuss Vioxx in voicemails

PrintE-mailDisable live quotesRSSDigg itDel.icio.usBy Peter Loftus
Last Update: 11:27 PM ET Sep 11, 2006


PHILADELPHIA (MarketWatch) -- Merck & Co. (MRK) agreed to tell its U.S. employees to immediately stop leaving messages about the painkiller Vioxx on the drug company's telephone voicemail system, according to an order from a New Jersey judge.
In an order signed Friday, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee in Atlantic City also said Merck and its employees must securely preserve existing Vioxx-related voicemail messages. She said the order doesn't apply to messages to and from Merck legal employees directly related to the massive Vioxx litigation, in which thousands of people have claimed the drug caused heart attacks and other health problems.
Higbee's order stemmed from a request by plaintiffs' attorneys for a court order requiring the company to preserve voicemails regarding Vioxx for potential use as evidence in litigation. Merck responded that doing so would be 'unduly burdensome,' Merck's outside attorney, Ted Mayer, said in a written statement Monday.
'Until the court has an opportunity to rule on this issue, we have instructed employees not to leave any Vioxx-related voicemails going forward and agreed to preserve whatever existing voice mails employees may have,' Mayer said.
Plaintiff attorneys with knowledge of the issue couldn't immediately be reached Monday.
Merck had about 31,900 employees in the U.S., including Puerto Rico, as of Dec. 31, the last period for which the company reported a head count. "

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