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(From AFX Europe (Focus))
TRENTON, N.J. (AFX) - A surge of lawsuits has swamped courthouses just ahead of the two-year anniversary of drugmaker Merck & Co. pulling its blockbuster painkiller Vioxx from the market.
Saturday was the deadline for many users to sue the Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based drugmaker over heart attacks, strokes or other harm they blame on Vioxx. Patients in 22 states, many heavily populated ones, can no longer sue Merck because they have a limit of two years on initiating personal injury lawsuits; four other states have one-year limits.
Merck is holding its own defending Vioxx in the courtroom, racking up its fifth win this week. Most experts say Merck's fight-every-case strategy is discouraging an even bigger flood of suits, although each trial is costing millions.
So far, well over 21,700 suits, many with multiple plaintiffs, have been filed, up sharply from the 14,200 Merck reported as of June 30. …