Jury Finds Merck Not Liable for Heart Attack of Former Vioxx User
A New Jersey jury on Thursday ruled that Merck is not liable for a nonfatal heart attack experienced by a former user of the COX-2 inhibitor Vioxx, which was withdrawn from the market in September 2004, USA Today reports (McCoy/Schmidt, USA Today, 11/4).
Frederick Humeston alleged that Vioxx caused him to experience a heart attack in September 2001, two months after he began to take the medication. The jury voted on two charges: failure to warn and consumer fraud (Won Tesoriero et al., Wall Street Journal, 11/4).
On the failure to warn charge, the jury voted 8-1 to determine Merck did not "fail to provide an adequate warning" to physicians about risk for "serious cardiovascular events" linked with Vioxx that the company "either knew or should have known about prior" to when Humeston experienced a heart attack. On the consumer fraud charge, the jury voted 9-0 to determine Merck did not use "unconscionable commercial practices" in the promotion of Vioxx to physicians (Ginsberg, Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/4).
According to the Journal, the jury "didn't even vote" on the issue of whether Vioxx caused Humeston to experience a heart attack because the votes on the failure to warn and consumer fraud charges absolved Merck of any liability in the case (Wall Street Journal, 11/4).