A federal judge in Houston says he’ll meet with attorneys next week to discuss a new trial date after today’s mistrial in a lawsuit over the once-popular painkiller Vioxx.

Eighteen hours of deliberations by a Houston jury failed to deliver a verdict in the civil trial of Vioxx-maker Merck and Company.

The panel couldn’t decide whether Merck was liable for “Dicky” Irvin’s fatal 2001 heart attack — nor whether the company failed to issue safety warnings that the drug could cause serious heart problems.

Two earlier state trials, in Texas and New Jersey, resulted in one verdict in favor of Merck and Company, and one against. Merck faces about seven-thousand pending state and federal lawsuits.

Jere Beasley and Andy Birchfield, both of Montgomery, are the lead plantiff attorneys in the Texas case.

They are also representing a Talladega woman who blames her husband’s death in 2001 on Vioxx. In May, a Clay County judge postponed what would have been the nation’s first trial over the drug.

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