[JURIST] A New Jersey state court on Thursday vacated a November verdict finding Merck not liable [JURIST report] for the heart attack of Frederick Humeston, who suffered a heart attack in September 2001 after taking Merck's painkiller Vioxx [Merck Vioxx Information Center website; JURIST news archive] for less than 18 months. The New Jersey Superior Court judge who presided over the trial vacated the verdict after lawyers for the plaintiff presented new evidence showing that Merck [corporate website] withheld evidence during the trial that demonstrated that the pharmaceutical company knew that Vioxx posed an increased risk of heart attacks even when taken for less than 18 months. Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee ordered a new trial in the case.
Also on Thursday, a federal jury awarded $50 million [JURIST report] to a plaintiff in a Vioxx negligence case who suffered a heart attack in 2002 after taking Vioxx for three years. Merck pulled the drug from the market in September 2004 after a study showed that it could double the risk of heart attack or stroke if taken for more than 18 months. AP has more.