The latest Vioxx-related trial delivered a split verdict to the drug's manufacturer, Merck & co. The drug, predominantly used to treat back pain, was found to cause cardiovascular risks and was subsequently pulled from the market by Merck in Sept. 2004. Thousands of lawsuits followed. A New Jersey jury found Merck liable in one case for not adequately warning doctors of the drug's associated risks, but concluded doctors had been properly warned in a second case. The second case was considered more difficult to prove because by the time the plaintiff had suffered a fatal heart attack, Merck had already been including 'warning' labels on bottles of Vioxx for six months. The company has so far won eight Vioxx-related trials and lost four.
• Sources: Wall Street Journal, AP, Reuters
• Commentary: Ethical Questions Continue to Surround Merck's Vioxx Probe • Good News for Merck's Vioxx • Merck's Vioxx Shown to Pose Heart and Kidney Risks
• Stocks and ETFs to watch: Merck & Co. (MRK). Competitors: Pfizer Inc. (PFE), Wyeth (WYE), Schering-Plough Corp. (SGP), Novartis AG (NVS), Teva (TEVA), AstraZeneca plc (AZN), GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK), Sanofi-Aventis (SNY), Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY), Abbott Laboratories (ABT), Amgen (AMGN). ETFs: iShares Dow Jones US Pharmaceuticals (IHE), Pharmaceutical HOLDRs (PPH)
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