The first trial in what potentially could be thousands of damage claims against the maker of Vioxx begins Monday in Texas.
Jury selection starts near Houston in the lawsuit against Merck. Robert Ernst died in his sleep in 2001 after taking Vioxx for about eight months to ease pain in his hands. A judge is considering whether to grant Merck a delay in the trial but is forging ahead with jury selection before making a decision on the request.
The company is accused of knowing Vioxx was dangerous long before the painkiller was pulled off the market last year. The New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company says it has acted responsibly and has vowed to defend itself against the more than 3,800 similar state and federal lawsuits over the drug.