Drugmaker prevails in Vioxx lawsuit

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 13, 2006

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Merck & Co. scored a victory in February after the drug company won the first federal lawsuit to go to trial against it for failing to issue safety warnings for its painkiller, Vioxx (rofecoxib).

A unanimous New Orleans jury found no negligence on Merck's part in the death of Richard Irvin, a Florida man who died of a heart attack in 2001 after using Vioxx for a short time.

This is the second time the case went before a jury. Judge Eldon Fallon declared a mistrial in December 2005 after a Houston jury could not reach a unanimous decision.

The verdict is the second win for Merck, which also won a state lawsuit in New Jersey in November 2005. The company still faces thousands of lawsuits after it voluntarily pulled Vioxx from the shelves in September 2004 when data revealed increased cardiovascular risk for patients who took the drug for at least 18 months.

An attorney for Irvin's family said they were "more than likely" to appeal the verdict.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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