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Merck found liable in another Vioxx case: reports

Aug 17, 2006 | A jury on Thursday said Merck & Co. Inc. has to pay $50 million in compensatory damages to a former FBI agent who suffered a heart attack after taking the company's painkiller Vioxx, according to media reports.

The jury in a federal court in New Orleans reportedly ruled that Merck & Co., Inc. was negligent for failing to adequately warn doctors of about the risks associated with the drug. The jury also found that Merck "knowingly misrepresented or failed to disclose" information about Vioxx to the doctors of 62-year-old Gerald Barnett, the reports said.

Barnett suffered a heart attack in September 2002; he took Vioxx for 33 months, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Barnett's doctor said that if Merck had disclosed the drug's risks earlier, he would never have prescribed it for his patient, The Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site, citing court papers. Barnett reportedly kept taking the drug even after the heart attack, and until a few weeks before it was pulled from the market in September 2004.

The jury is scheduled to deliberate punitive damages in the trial later today.

Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based Merck is involved in more than 14,000 lawsuits over Vioxx, according to the Journal. With this latest verdict, the drugmaker has now won five trials and lost four.

There was no one at the company immediately available for comment.

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