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Jury deliberates

Jury deliberates

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HOUSTON - Jurors deliberated about two hours Thursday without reaching a verdict in the first trial stemming from a federal lawsuit against Merck & Co. over its once-popular painkiller Vioxx.

Deliberations were to resume Friday. The nine jurors, whose decisions must be unanimous, are deciding whether Merck failed to warn about Vioxx risks, whether the painkiller was defective and whether Merck was negligent in designing and marketing the drug.

If jurors answer yes to any of those questions, they then must decide whether any of those factors contributed to the 2001 death of Richard "Dicky" Irvin, 53, of St. Augustine, Fla., whose widow is suing Merck.

This is the first federal trial over Vioxx; Merck already has lost one state trial over the drug and won another, but it still faces about 7,000 lawsuits. The Irvin case was moved to Houston from its original venue of New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina damage.

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