Merck & Co has asked a judge to dismiss the first scheduled court case over Vioxx (rofecoxib) – the painkiller it withdrew from the market last year after it was linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke [[01/10/04a]] – claiming that the woman suing the firm had lied in her sworn statement.

According to Reuters, Merck said in a court filing that Cheryl Rogers had claimed that her husband had died as a result of taking Vioxx, but that the drug samples provided as evidence did not actually leave the company’s possession until March 2002 – six months after Howard Rogers died. Merck also alleges that there is no record of Mr Rogers ever receiving a Vioxx sample.

The case in question had been slated to begin on May 23, and Industry observers have been keeping a keen eye on the developments, expecting it to set a precedent for the countless other cases waiting in the wings.