Merck Wins Latest Vioxx Case

Merck was found not liable in the seventh lawsuit over Vioxx, the arthritis painkiller that it pulled from the market because of heart attack risk, the company announced Thursday.

The jury of five men and two women found Vioxx was not a substantial factor in the heart attack of a 68-year-old New Jersey woman, a court clerk said. The trial was held at New Jersey Superior Court in Atlantic City.

The jury decided that although Merck failed to warn the plaintiff, Elaine Doherty, about the heart risks of taking Vioxx, it did adequately warn her doctor of such risks, the clerk said.

The panel also found that Merck did not commit consumer fraud or misrepresent Vioxx in marketing the drug to physicians or to the plaintiff, the clerk said.

Jim Fitzpatrick, an outside counsel for Merck, said in a press conference that the verdict “reiterates our strategy to defend these cases on an individual basis.”

Michael Galpern, attorney for Doherty, told CNNMoney.com that he had not decided whether to appeal, but his firm is representing more than 500 plaintiffs in upcoming Vioxx cases.

“This was actually a major victory for plaintiffs across the country as this was the first time that the jury was asked if Merck failed to warn the patients about the dangers of Vioxx and the answer was yes by a unanimous verdict,” said Galpern. “Unfortunately they found that Vioxx did not cause Mrs. Doherty’s heart attacks, and we are disappointed with that one.”

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