The US drug multinational Merck, which is facing several lawsuits in the US on charges of having wilfully withheld information on its best-selling pain-killer Vioxx, which it had to withdraw from the market in 2003, won a major court victory when a US federal jury cleared the drug maker of any responsibility for the death of a 53-year-old man.
The firm argued that there was never any proven link between Vioxx and the death due to heart attack of a 53-year old patient who had been on the Vioxx for less than a month.
This was Merck's second court victory over the controversial drug, which at the time of its withdrawal had annual sales of $2.5 billion in 2003, and the first in a federal court.
In August last year, Merck was ordered to pay out $253 million as damages after a state jury in Texas held the company liable for the death of a man. In November 2005, a New Jersey jury found Merck had given doctors adequate warning about possible health risks and did not commit consumer fraud in marketing the drug.
Merck faces a several lawsuits over Vioxx after a study found it could double the risk of heart attack or stroke.