A judge on Wednesday set a hearing for Friday on Merck & Co. Inc.’s request to ban live broadcasts from the courtroom during the Vioxx product liability trial scheduled to begin next week,

The pharmaceutical company filed a motion on Tuesday asking New Jersey Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee to refuse a request by the Court TV cable network to broadcast from inside the courtroom during the trial.

“The risks from broadcasting are particularly acute when—as here—there has already been significant media attention to a case,” Merck said in court papers.

The company urged the judge to bar use of recording or broadcasting equipment in the courtroom “to avoid further peril to Merck’s constitutionally guaranteed right to have this and the thousands of other Vioxx cases tried before open-minded and impartial juries.”

The trial is scheduled to get under way on Monday here with jury selection. The judge, speaking at a pretrial meeting with reporters, said opening arguments were expected to begin next Wednesday.

The New Jersey case follows a recently concluded Vioxx trial in Texas, which was the first stemming from Merck’s withdrawal of the arthritis drug last year. In the Texas case, the widow of a man who died after taking Vioxx for eight months was awarded $253 million.

The New Jersey case was filed by Frederick Humeston of Boise, Idaho, a 60-year-old postal carrier and Vietnam War veteran who blames Vioxx for his 2001 heart attack.



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