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Retrial underway in first federal Vioxx lawsuit

[JURIST] The retrial of the first federal lawsuit against the manufacturers of Vioxx [JURIST report] began Monday in New Orleans with jury selection. The case first went to trial last year, but was declared a mistrial [JURIST report] in December when jurors could not agree on a verdict. Evelyn Irvin Plunkett is suing Merck [corporate website], alleging that her husband died of a heart attack as a result of taking Vioxx [JURIST news archive] for one month. The painkiller was recalled in 2004 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]. Lawyers for Merck maintain that Vioxx had nothing to do with the death of the plaintiff's husband, saying that he suffered from clogged arteries and a blood clot prior to taking the drug, but Plunkett will argue that Vioxx affected blood-thinning enzymes and caused the clot which lead to her husband's death.

This is the third case among some 9,600 state and federal Vioxx lawsuits against Merck to go trial. Last August, a Texas jury awarded a $253.4 million verdict [JURIST report] to the plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit, but a New Jersey jury found that Merck was not liable [JURIST report] and that the company properly warned consumers about the risks associated with the drug. AP has more.

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