ATLANTIC CITY -- The judge in the second Vioxx product liability trial delivered a stunning blow to Merck & Co. yesterday when she struck the testimony of its first defense witness from the record.
With the jury outside, Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee said she felt misled and sickened upon rereading the transcript of Thursday's testimony by a Merck researcher who said studies by the company in the late 1990s showed the pain reliever would not cause heart damage.
Higbee struck the testimony of Merck researcher Dr. Briggs Morrison from the record because she said he was not an expert on the studies he had told the jury about Thursday, nor did Merck give the court sufficient notice about what he would discuss.
Morrison was Merck's opening witness in the three-week trial over whether Vioxx caused the 2001 heart attack of Boise, Idaho, postal worker Frederick Humeston.
Merck voluntarily pulled the drug from the market a year ago.