Those who made the decisions should maybe spend a while in jail.
Yeah lets punish the person who analyzed the initial study data and found nothing wrong. As someone before said, these drugs go to mostly older people who already have medical problems, finding a correlation is probably not the easiest thing. Merck's study showed the drug to be safe, then the FDA showed the drug to be safe (all this took a few years), then the drug went to market. Later, studies found the drug to be unsafe and now the drug is gone.. Where is the criminal offense? I doubt anyone was grossly negligent, There was most certainly no bad intent in marketing the drug. The upper management is not shoving this money in giant canvas bags with dollar signs on them in the backs of their Ferraris and doing burnouts in the parking lot just for shits n giggles.
To punish people legally there would have to be a crime, I really don't see the crime. People make mistakes, and accidents happen, as long as nobody truly dropped the ball then no crime was committed.
From: West's Business Law, Text and Cases; 9th edition. p111
"To succeed in a negligence action, the plaintiff must prove the following:
1. The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff
2. That the defendant breached that duty.
3. That the plaintiff suffered a legally recognizable injury.
4. That the defendant's breach caused the plaintiffs injury."
Gross Negligence, p 115
".. In suits involving gross negligence, which can be defined as an intentional failure to perform a manifest duty in reckless disregard of the consequences of such a failure for the life or property of another"
For some clarification:
"The law of torts defines and measures the duty of care by the reasonable person standard. In determining whether a duty of care has been breached, for example, the courts ask how a reasonable person would have acted in the same circumstances."
Were there legally recognizable injuries? Yes, that's why they pulled the drug.
Did Merck's mistake cause people injury? Yes, that is why they pulled the drug.
Did Merck act unreasonably in the face of the new found information? No
Was Merck showing a reckless disregard? That's a big fat NO, they are being as responsible as they can be about this, they are not passing the buck, they are not denying responsibility, and if some ambulance chaser does take them to court over it the judge and jury will see how they have responded. They will have to pay something to the families of the people who died as a result but don't look for a huge award of punitive damages, there is nothing to punish here.
Things were better when it was two guys in a dorm room.