The Texas Supreme Court has overturned a 2006 $32 million judgment against Merck & Co, saying the family of Leonel Garza, Sr, did not show adequate evidence that the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug rofecoxib (Vioxx) caused the man's fatal myocardial infarction.
Used to treat conditions chronic and acute pain, rofecoxib was pulled from the market in 2004 because of concerns of an increased risk for cardiovascular events, including myocardial infarction and stroke. In 2007, Merck agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle thousands of injury claims over the drug.
In his judgment, Justice Nathan L. Hecht wrote: "We...hold that the Garzas did not present reliable evidence of general causation and are therefore not entitled to recover against Merck."
The San Antonio Court of Appeals had previously overturned the verdict because of jury misconduct and ordered a new trial. The Texas Supreme Court found that the evidence did not support the plaintiffs, and therefore ordered final judgment in favor of Merck.
"Today's decision reaffirms that there is simply no reliable scientific evidence that Vioxx caused the plaintiff's heart attack," Ted Mayer of Hughes Hubbard & Reed, outside counsel for Merck, said in a statement released by the company.
Caroline Cassels • Medscape Medical News © 2011 WebMD, LLC