[JURIST] A Texas jury on Friday awarded a $253.4 million verdict in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the widow of a man who suffered cardiac arrest after using the prescription osteoarthritis drug Vioxx [JURIST news archive]. Merck [corporate website], the maker of Vioxx, has issued a statement [press release] that they were "disappointed" and planned to appeal the decision. Vioxx was recalled last fall after clinical tests showed that patients who use the drug for more than 18 months faced increased risk of stroke and heart attack [FDA public health advisory]. The Food and Drug Administration has approved Vioxx for sale, but Merck has not put it back on the market. Merck faces at least 4,200 other suits relating to the drug and it is speculated that their liability could reach $18 billion. Reuters has more.