[JURIST] A New Jersey jury awarded a plaintiff $20 million in the latest Vioxx [FDA backgrounder; JURIST news archive] litigation on Monday. The jury found that the drug, distributed by Merck [corporate website], caused the plaintiff's heart attack and that had the plaintiff's doctor known of the risks associated with Vioxx he would not have prescribed it to the plaintiff. During the first phase of the trial, the jury found that Merck had not adequately warned doctors and consumers about the increased risk of heart attack associated with the drug.
Last week, a New Jersey Superior Court upheld [JURIST report] a separate jury verdict that found Merck adequately warned physicians of the risks associated with Vioxx. Merck faces more than 27,000 lawsuits from people who say they were harmed by the once $2.5 billion-a-year drug before it was pulled from the market [press release] in September of 2004. Merck has set aside $1 billion to fight every Vioxx court challenge. In November 2006, a federal judge declined to certify a national class action suit [JURIST report], ruling that it made more sense to try the cases in their respective states of origin. AP has more.