[JURIST] Opening statements began Monday in the second New Jersey state trial against New Jersey-based Merck [corporate website] over their distribution of the painkiller Vioxx [Merck Vioxx Information Center website; JURIST news archive]. Although a New Jersey jury found Merck not liable [JURIST report] in a separate trial last year, in the consolidated case now at trial, plaintiffs allege that damage occurred through the long-term use of the drug, an element missing in the previous New Jersey case. Vioxx was pulled from the shelves after clinical tests showed that patients using the drug for more than 18 months faced increased risks of stroke and heart attack [FDA public health advisory]. AP has more.
The plaintiff's lawyer in this action is the same who won a $253 million verdict [JURIST report] in the first Vioxx state claim in Texas, which is currently being reviewed on appeal. Merck was cleared of responsibility in the first federal trial [JURIST report; original complaint]; another trial is currently underway [JURIST report] in Rio Grande City, Texas. Merck faces over 9,650 lawsuits in state and federal court over Vioxx, though the current New Jersey case is the first where the facts involve long term use of the drug.