The Texas Supreme Court today refused to block a coroner’s testimony in a Vioxx-related trial in Angleton. So jurors will be allowed to hear the pathologist’s videotaped testimony that could damage the case of drug maker Merck.

The civil trial involves the 2001 death of Texan Robert Ernst, who took the painkiller.

In the deposition obtained by The Associated Press, Doctor Maria Araneta said she thought Ernst’s death from arrhythmia was more than likely caused by a heart attack.

Merck pulled Vioxx from the market in September after a study showed that it doubled the risk of heart attack if taken for 18 months of longer.

Merck’s defense relies on Araneta’s autopsy report, which says Ernst died of an arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat—secondary to clogged arteries.

Neither her report nor Ernst’s death certificate identify a heart attack as the cause of death.



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