The jury in the ongoing Vioxx trial in New Jersey has heard closing arguments from the defense, and will begin deliberations Wednesday. The plaintiff is Elaine Doherty. Here are excerpts from an Associated Press story:
Severely clogged arteries, obesity and other factors caused a 68-year-old grandmother’s heart attack — not her use of Vioxx, lawyers for the drug’s maker told jurors during closing arguments Tuesday in New Jersey’s latest case over the withdrawn painkiller.
While plaintiff Elaine Doherty of Lawrenceville had lost 100 pounds and taken steps to reduce her blood pressure, cholesterol level and other risk factors, it wasn’t enough to prevent her January 2004 heart attack, Merck & Co. attorney Diane Sullivan told the jury.
For somebody like Mrs. Doherty, it’s not whether you’re going to have a heart attack, it’s when,” she said. “It would be hard to find somebody with more risk factors for a heart attack.
Lawyers have alleged that Merck downplayed the risks of Vioxx to doctors and to patients. Jurors in the case will vote on whether Merck failed to warn either group before they can consider whether Merck is to blame for Doherty’s heart attack and should have to pay damages.
Merck now faces more than 13,000 Vioxx-related lawsuits and has vowed to fight them one by one. It has lost three trials so far, with juries awarding multimillion-dollar verdicts in each. The company plans to appeal those losses.
The New Jersey trial is the seventh over Vioxx; an eighth trial is under way in Los Angeles.
Doherty’s lawyers were to present their closing argument Tuesday afternoon, with the jury expected to begin deliberating Wednesday morning after receiving instructions from Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee.