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Jurors begin deliberations in Midwest's first Vioxx trial


Edwardsville, Ill – Jurors began weighing whether a 52-year-old Metro East woman's fatal 2003 heart attack was the result of her poor health or the painkiller Vioxx.

Mikal Watts, an attorney for Patty Schwaller's widower, urged jurors during closing arguments to sock drug giant Merck in the pocketbook for allegedly failing to sufficiently warn consumers the drug increased the risk of cardiovascular problems. Watts cited company e-mail in making the assertion.

Merck pulled the drug off the market in 2004 after its research showed it increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Merck attorney Dan Ball accused Watts of cherry-picking and misrepresenting Merck e-mails to "assault" the reputation of a company he said was dedicated to making lives better.

Merck has been deluged with more than 27,000 personal injury lawsuits and another 265 potential class-action lawsuits alleging harm from Vioxx.


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