Merck, the manufacturer of Vioxx, won the latest Vioxx trial this week in federal court in New Orleans. That gives Merck five wins and four losses in the first ten Vioxx trials. One other Merck victory has been overturned, and is on appeal.
As allowed in the federal multi-case system, this latest trial was a case that Merck selected to try, and it was considered a very good case for Merck from the beginning. Kentucky Plaintiff Robert Smith took Vioxx for about four months before his heart attack in 2003.
Philip Beck, Merck’s lead trial lawyer in the case, said Smith had multiple risk factors for a heart attack, including high blood pressure and obesity. He also said Smith’s strenuous physical activity on the day of his heart attack — shovelling snow for almost an hour — was a well-known trigger for such events.
The next Vioxx trial is scheduled for the end of October, also in New Orleans federal court, followed by a trial involving two plaintiffs in California. In November, trials are to begin in Texas and Alabama, and then again in federal court in New Orleans. So far, Merck has shown no indication whatsoever that it plans to make settlement offers on any Vioxx claims.