Trenton, N.J. — Merck & Co. won a crucial legal victory on Thursday, when jurors decided that the drugmaker's Vioxx painkiller, now the subject of at least 16,000 product liability lawsuits, did not cause a 68-year-old woman's heart attack.
The case was the first in which jurors considered whether Merck failed to warn patients about the drug's cardiac risks, rather than just doctors as in prior trials.
The jury found that Merck properly warned doctors but did not caution the woman of the cardiac hazards of the drug. The jury of five men and two women found that Vioxx was not a major factor in Elaine Doherty's 2004 heart attack, however.
Merck will not have to pay compensatory or punitive damages in the case. The jury also found that Merck did not violate New Jersey's consumer fraud law, meaning it met standards of honesty and good faith in its marketing of Vioxx and did not conceal information about the drug's cardiovascular risks.