Mistrial declared in first Vioxx trial

U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon, according to Reuters, has declared a mistrial in the first federal Vioxx trial after the jury failed to reach a verdict. In the lawsuit filed by Evelyn Irvin Plunkett in the death of her husband Richard “Dicky” Irvin, the main point of contention was if Vioxx was lethal when taken for less than 18 months.

The plaintiff’s attorneys would have filed for a mistrial anyway if they had lost the case since some new developments in the case have strengthened the case of Vioxx victims. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, Merck deliberately hid number of deaths of Vioxx in the VIGOR trial, to make Vioxx appear to be less dangerous. It is expected that the number of lawsuits will now grow as Merck faces a serious credibility crisis.

It appears that the judge will now set another date for retrial. Merck is, however, disappointed with the outcome. A victory for Merck would have bolstered its argument that short-term use of the painkiller is not lethal. “If a retrial is scheduled we will be right back with the same facts,” said Kenneth C. Frazier, senior vice president and general counsel of Merck, in a statement. “The VIOXX litigation will go on for years. We have the resources and the resolve to address these cases, one by one, in a reasonable and responsible manner,” he added.

The next trial is scheduled to begin early next year.

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