Federal Jury Rules in Favor of Merck in Vioxx Case
A federal jury in New Orleans on Tuesday found that the COX-2 inhibitor Vioxx did not cause a nonfatal heart attack experienced by 56-year-old plaintiff Robert Garry Smith and that Merck, which manufactures the medication, provided adequate warnings about the cardiovascular risks of the treatment, the Wall Street Journal reports (Won Tesoriero, Wall Street Journal, 9/27).
Merck, which withdrew Vioxx from the market in September 2004 over safety concerns, faces about 16,000 lawsuits related to the medication in state and federal courts. In the latest case, Smith alleged that Vioxx caused him to experience a nonfatal heart attack in February 2003, about four months after he began to take the medication (American Health Line, 9/13).
The latest case marks the first in which the cardiovascular event allegedly caused by the medication occurred after Merck revised the label of the treatment in 2002 to include a warning on increased cardiovascular risks. Merck to date has won five Vioxx cases and lost four, with a tenth verdict in favor of the company vacated last month by New Jersey Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee (Wall Street Journal, 9/27).