Corporate Compliance

Judge won't delay Vioxx wrongful death trial

Compliance Monitor, July 6, 2005

A judge has declined Merck & Co.'s request for a two-month delay for jury selection in the wrongful death trial regarding the painkiller Vioxx.

Still, Texas state District Judge Ben Hardin said Tuesday that he will read questionnaires filled out by potential jurors to screen for evidence that they have been influenced by media publicity before the trial, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Merck requested a two-month delay in jury selection to allow potential jurors a "cooling off" period from the media attention the trial received last week, when it was filed by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, according to the AP.

Merck pulled Vioxx in September, after research showed that patients who took it for 18 months or longer doubled their risk for heart attacks and stroke.

The Texas case is the first of the more than 2,400 Vioxx lawsuits filed to reach trial. In it, Abbott accuses Merck of defrauding Texans by representing Vioxx as safe while pushing for its inclusion on the state's list of medicines approved by Medicaid, the AP reported.

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