Virtually every legal analyst agrees that the bulk of Friday's enormous $253 million award against Merck won't withstand an appeal. Texas law severely limits punitive damages. On the other hand, a host of analysts were also in agreement that the jury award represents a bitter pill for the drug maker. Thousands of lawsuits have already been filed against Merck, and now many more may be inspired as lawyers and plaintiffs respond to the jury's conclusion that the drug company knew Vioxx was dangerous and hid that fact from the public. Merck's stock lost 8 percent in value on Friday afternoon as the news began to sink in.
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