A jury in South Texas is set to hear closing arguments today and begin deliberations in a lawsuit over the painkiller Vioxx. The case is one of almost ten-thousand alleging Merck & Company was responsible for heart attacks in people taking the painkiller.
The family of 71-year-old Leonel Garza is asking one (b) billion dollars in its lawsuit against Merck. Garza died of a heart attack within a month of taking Vioxx for his arm pain in 2001.
Merck lawyers argue that the attack was the end result of 23 years of heart disease. They say Garza only took the drug for a week, too short a period of time to bring on a heart attack.
Family attorneys counter that Garza's veins had been cleared and that a stress test shortly before he died showed less than a two percent risk of a fatal heart attack within a year. They said he had taken the drug for at least a full month.
The trial is being held in Rio Grande City.