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Alabama jury finds Merck not liable in latest Vioxx trial

[JURIST] An Alabama jury returned a verdict in favor of pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. [corporate website] on Friday, concluding that the drug Vioxx [JURIST news archive] did not cause the plaintiff in the case to suffer a heart attack. The jury also found that Merck did not withhold information prior to removing the drug from the market in 2004. The plaintiff, Gary Albright, 57, had asked for over $5 million in damages for the heart attack that he suffered in 2001. Evidence was introduced that other pre-existing conditions may have led to Albright's heart attack. Albright has not announced whether he will appeal the verdict.

The Alabama verdict marks Merck's fourth state victory; it has lost three other state suits, and a New Jersey verdict in its favor was vacated [JURIST report] in August. On Wednesday, Merck won its fourth federal victory when a jury in New Orleans found it not liable [JURIST report] for damages related to Vioxx. While Merck lost a federal trial in August, the judge rejected the $50 million verdict [JURIST report] as excessive and ordered a new trial for damages. Merck continues to face thousands of individual lawsuits and hundreds of class actions over the drug, which was pulled from the market after a study showed that it could double the risk of heart attack or stroke if taken for more than 18 months. Last month, a federal judge rejected a bid to combine all federal lawsuits [JURIST report] against Merck into a single class action. AP has more.

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