August 30, 2006

Judge overturns Vioxx award against Merck

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge overturned a $50
million award handed down by a jury against Merck & Co. Inc.
earlier this month in a case of a former FBI agent who had
blamed the withdrawn painkiller Vioxx for his heart attack.

In a written ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Eldon Fallon
did not dispute the jury's finding that Merck knowingly
misrepresented or failed to disclose a material fact regarding
Vioxx safety to the plaintiff's physician, but ordered a new
trial to determine the financial damages.

"The Court finds that the $50 million compensatory damages
award is excessive under any conceivable substantive standard
of excessiveness," Fallon in his ruling.

The jury on August 17 awarded 62-year-old Gerald Barnett
$50 million in compensatory damages and another $1 million in
punitive damages.

Merck did not immediately return telephone calls seeking

Merck, which pulled Vioxx from the market in September of
2004 after a study found the drug doubled the risk of heart
attack and stroke in long-term users, is facing more than
14,200 Vioxx product liability lawsuits.

(Additional reporting by Bill Berkrot)