Monday, July 10, 2006

Doherty Trial Wrapping Up in N.J.

Closing arguments in New Jersey's latest Vioxx trial start Tuesday as lawyers on Monday wrangled over jury instructions.

They also discussed the verdict sheet. This will be the first time that the jury will be asked whether Merck failed to warn individual patients that evidence showed its blockbuster painkiller increased risk of heart attacks. In the other Vioxx trials juries instead have ruled on whether Merck failed to warn doctors of the risk.

Judge Carol Higbee made the ruling because Merck ran broadcast and print ads directly targeting patients.

The jury will vote separately on whether Merck failed to warn doctors and whether it failed to warn patients. Jurors will only have to vote yes on one of those questions to be allowed to consider whether Vioxx caused Doherty's heart attack and whether she should be awarded damages.