Judge dismisses Merck shareholder suits
A federal judge has dismissed a group of shareholder lawsuits that charged Merck & Co. officers and directors with violating their duties by concealing the health risks of the company''s Vioxx painkiller, the Associated Press reports. The plaintiffs conceded they failed, as required, to make a demand for action by the board before filing suit, U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler ruled. The judge also barred the shareholders from amending their consolidated lawsuit. The shareholders had argued that they did not have to make a demand because the board participated in and approved Vioxx marketing plans, and because directors would be unwilling to institute litigation against themselves, Chesler wrote. The ruling does not affect the 11,500 lawsuits filed by patients and others around the nation. Merck has lost half of the six patient cases that reached a verdict.