The judge in the first federal lawsuit against Merck's Vioxx has declared a mistrial, according to published reports.
The ruling came this morning after jurors remained deadlocked following 18 hours of deliberations over three days last week.
According to published reports, the jury resumed what was to be its fourth day of deliberations today, but within about 20 minutes, U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon summoned the jurors and reminded them they had agreed to reach a verdict in a "reasonable time."
"It has now been a reasonable time. We cannot get a verdict," Fallon reportedly said, declaring a mistrial. Federal litigation requires a unanimous verdict.
The panel was reported to be at odds over whether Merck was liable in Richard "Dicky" Irvin's 2001 death and whether the company failed to issue safety warnings that the drug could have serious cardiovascular repercussions.
This latest outcome leaves Merck with a 1-and-1 record in state trials and an undecided in the first of four federal trials overseen by Fallon. The company is up against about 7,000 pending state and federal lawsuits and its liability has been estimated at up to $50 billion.