A federal jury late Tuesday ruled in favor of
in a lawsuit over the drugmaker's painkiller Vioxx, finding that it was not responsible for a Kentucky man's heart attack.
This is the tenth case
to go to trial over Vioxx, the arthritis and pain-relief drug that Merck pulled from the market two years ago.
The New Orleans jury cleared Merck from responsibility for 56-year-old Robert Smith's heart attack, deciding that the company had adequately warned of the painkiller's risks.
Smith, who took the drug for 138 days, said that he didn't know at the time that the drug could be a cause for concern.
Merck issued a news release announcing its victory shortly after the verdict was read.
"Mr. Smith had multiple risk factors for a heart attack including elevated blood pressure, a family history of cardiac problems, coronary artery disease and he was considered medically obese," lead trial lawyer Philip Beck said in a statement.
Strenuous physical activity on the day of the heart attack, such as shoveling snow in cold temperatures, "is a well-known trigger for such events," said Beck, adding that "Mr. Smith would have suffered a heart attack whether he was taking Vioxx or not."
There was no talk of settlement, according to published reports, and Beck said that Merck would continue to try cases one at a time.
Smith did not speak as he left the courtroom, reports said.
In September 2004, Merck pulled the painkiller after a clinical trial showed that Vioxx patients who took the drug for more than 18 months had a higher risk of cardiovascular problems than people who were given a placebo.
Merck says it has been named as a defendant in about 14,200 personal-injury lawsuits in the U.S., as well as roughly 190 purported class actions. Lawsuits have been filed in other countries.
After hours, shares of the drugmaker were recently off 11 cents to $41.65.