Merck wins Florida liability suit

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. A Florida Circuit Court found a liability case against pharmaceutical company Merck was implausible, the company announced Friday.

The product liability suit claimed that Merck, developer of the medication Vioxx, had caused the plaintiff, Refik Kozic, to suffer a heart attack. The medication, designed to treat osteoarthritis symptoms and pain, was withdrawn from the market three years ago after data from a company study reflected some unwanted results.

The evidence showed that the Kozic had significant atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease in the vessels that supply blood to the heart, including the vessel where the heart attack actually occurred. Kozic had high cholesterol and other risk factors that contributed to the progression of his disease over a long period of time.

“We believe the evidence showed that Merck acted responsibly and that Vioxx was not the cause of Mr. Kozic’s heart attack,” said Merck’s outside counsel Mike Brock. ”We believe that Mr. Kozic’s longstanding cardiovascular disease caused his heart attack.”

Florida Circuit Court Judge William P. Levens presided over the case. This was the first Vioxx case in Florida to go to trial.