In court

Alang's woes On March 12, 2007, the Supreme Court adjourned the hearing of a case against the Norwegian asbestos-laden ship Blue Lady for another six weeks. On March 8, an intervening petition was filed in the ongoing case by sarpanchs from 12 villages around the Alang-Sosiya shipbreaking yard. They argued that dismantling of the ship will lead to health hazards of the local residents. About 30,000 people stay within a radius of 25 km of the yard. "Currently, the court is discussing beaching issues. We will make our submissions as and when the issue of dismantling of Blue Lady is taken up by the court,' says Atul Chitale, the advocate who represents the sarpanchs. On June 5, 2006, the apex court permitted the ship to anchor at Alang on humanitarian grounds despite objections from environmental groups.
Vioxx vows Merck Merck & Co Inc has decided to appeal against a New Jersey court's decision in a case filed by a user of the company's arthritis drug, Vioxx. The jury awarded US $18 million to Frederick Humeston, who suffered a cardiac arrest after taking Vioxx, and a further US $2 million to his wife. "Even if Humeston did not take Vioxx, he would have suffered a heart attack since he had significant coronary disease,' says Hope Freiwald, a member of Merck's defence team. In November 2005, the court ruled in favour of Merck in the same case but the plaintiff had appealed again. Till August 2006, a total of nine cases had been heard in the court, of which Merck won three. Merck faces around 7,000 lawsuits related to Vioxx and it is estimated that the potential liabilities could be over US $5 billion.

Vioxx, one of Merck's best selling drugs, was launched in 1999. However, in September 2004, the company voluntarily pulled the drug off the market after a study showed that it could increase the risk of heart attacks.

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