Closing arguments in the wrongful death lawsuit Schwaller v. Merck and Co. are expected Monday with a jury verdict probable by the end of the week.

The trial, being held in Madison County Circuit Court in Edwardsville, Ill., concerns the Aug. 8, 2003, death of Patricia Schwaller, who died of a heart attack, had been taking Merck & Co.’s Vioxx drug for more than 20 months.

Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) was hit with a flurry of product liability lawsuits after it voluntarily withdrew Vioxx (refecoxib), its arthritis and acute pain medication, from the worldwide market in late September 2004. The withdrawal came after a study showed an increased relative risk for cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stoke, beginning after 18 months of treatment with Vioxx versus placebo.

Schwaller’s husband, Frank Schwaller, is the plaintiff and represented by the St. Louis law firm Brown & Couppen. Brown & Crouppen plans to hold a press conference at the completion of the trial to announce the trial verdict.

Brown & Crouppen, along with lawyers from the Watts Law Firm of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Beasley Allen of Montgomery, Ala., began the Vioxx case Feb 20. The trial was expected to last about three to four weeks.

Merck is represented by Bryan Cave LLP in St. Louis and Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP.

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