Jury Clears Merck in Heart Attack Case in Latest Vioxx Verdict

A federal jury on Wednesday cleared Merck & Co. (MRK) in the July 2003 heart attack suffered by a Utah bank credit manager who had taken the once-popular painkiller Vioxx for 10 1/2 months.

Charles Laron "Ron" Mason, 64, of Salt Lake County, Utah, began taking Vioxx after years of taking anti-inflammatory drugs because of back pain.

The case was the 11th to be tried and the fourth in federal court.

Merck won two previous federal cases and lost the third. In state court, it has won three, and lost three. Jurors decided a fourth case in Merck's favor, but the judge later ordered a retrial.