The first federal Vioxx trial ended with a mistrial. Judge Eldon Fallon declared a mistrial when the jury could not reach a unanimous opinion, but stated he intended to try the case again, probably in February. That trial will return to the originally planned location, New Orleans, rather than Houston.
Some observers believe the mistrial is actually bad news for defendant Merck, because this was a weak case from the plaintiff standpoint. The victim in this case took Vioxx for only a month before suffering a fatal heart attack. If at least some of the jurors believed such a short-term use of Vioxx contributed to the heart attack, that bodes well for other plaintiffs who also took Vioxx for a short time.
In addition, the retrial will surely include new evidence about Merck covering up negative data from a major Vioxx study, as reported by the New England Journal of Medicine.
It’s possible the next state trial, scheduled for February 27, 2006, in New Jersey, will occur before the federal retrial. That case is stronger, because the plaintiff took Vioxx for two years before suffering a heart attack.