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Byline: Thomas Ginsberg
Sep. 15--ATLANTIC CITY -- Merck & Co. Inc. took its high-stakes legal defense of the recalled pain-reliever Vioxx to home turf yesterday, telling New Jersey jurors that any physician would have had have been "living under a rock" if he was unaware of the drug's risks.
"It wasn't a secret," Merck's lawyer, Diane P. Sullivan, told Atlantic County Superior Court jurors in opening statements at the nation's second Vioxx trial, referring to a pivotal 2000 study that found heart attacks in Vioxx users. "If you were a doctor prescribing Vioxx, you had to be living under a rock not to hear about the [study] results."
Frederick "Mike" Humeston, 60, of Boise, Idaho, sued Merck in 2003, two years after suffering a heart attack while on Vioxx and a year before Merck recalled the drug after it was shown to raise the risk of stroke or heart attacks.
The closely watched trial is the second for Merck, whose recall of Vioxx a year ago has socked the New Jersey-based company's stock price and morale, renewed concern …