Merck Says First Fla. Jury Finds Vioxx Not Liable for Heart Attack

October 9, 2007

Drug maker Merck & Co. Inc. said Friday the jury in a Florida liability case involving its painkiller Vioxx decided in the company’s favor.

The company said the jury found it was not liable for plaintiff Refik Kozic’s heart attack. Kozic alleged that he used Vioxx for about nine weeks before suffering his heart attack in April 2001 at 50, according to Merck.

It was the first Vioxx case in Florida to go to trial.

Merck pulled its blockbuster drug from the market Sept. 30, 2004, due to increased risk of heart attack and stroke that prompted massive litigation. Soon after that, analysts predicted liability could reach $50 billion. But that hasn’t proven true, as the drug maker has won 11 verdicts and lost 5 so far.

Merck also claimed victory in two multibillion-dollar class-action lawsuits, on behalf of shareholders and private insurers seeking to recoup what they paid for Vioxx prescriptions.

Still, at least 45,200 product liability cases are pending.

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