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Just When Merck Thought Its Vioxx Problems Were Over...

The short-term risks of Vioxx, revealed last year in a Canadian study, were enough to convince New Jersey Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee to grant Mike Humeston a new trial was in order after one jury ruled against him. This time, the jury got it right.

It took two days for an eight-member jury to award Humeston and his wife $47.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages after suffering a heart attack in 2001.

Here's the unusual twist to this new trial compared to others: Jurors were only asked initially to consider Merck's handling of the marketing (that often trumps safety) surrounding Vioxx as well as its way of disclosing the far more serious risks of the still banned COX-2 inhibitor, or lack thereof.

With Higbee presiding over more than half of the 28,000 lawsuits Merck faces over its heart-stopping pain reliever, I wonder if the New Jersey drug giant still plans to fight plaintiffs in the courts one at a time, or begin to settle with patients.

Just another reminder, there are many safer ways to treat your pain, none of which involve taking an expensive, useless and, often, deadly drug.

Yahoo News March 12, 2007