A testimony by a leading Merck & Co scientist has been thrown out of court after Judge Carol Higbee deemed Briggs Morrison inexpert on evidence he presented. Dr Morrison opened Merck’s defense in this, the second case concerning the now-withdrawn painkiller Vioxx (rofecoxib), and testified that studies conducted in both animals and humans had shown a "neutral" effect of Vioxx on the heart. However, it transpired that Dr Morrison was not involved in all the investigations, leading the prosecution to complain that he was not in fact an expert on the studies in question [[07/10/05b]].

According to a report in the Financial Times, the Judge’s decision to strike all Dr Morrison’s testimony – with the exception of some video footage recorded prior to the trial - led to uproar in the court and a threat to remove of one of Merck’s attorneys, Diane Sullivan. The US giant has since argued that the decision “effectively denies Merck its fundamental right to a fair trial.”

Merck only began its defense last week in a second case involving Frederick Humeston, a 60-year-old Vietnam war veteran who blames Vioxx for a heart attack he suffered in 2001 [[16/09/05b]]. The first case led to a decision that Merck was negligent in the death of Robert Ernst, awarding his widow $250 million dollars [[22/08/05a]].