Brisbane Times

'Not of merchantable quality' ... Federal Court judge rules on Vioxx.

Hundreds of Australians could now take legal action against US pharmaceutical giant Merck after a judge found its arthritis drug Vioxx was not fit for sale because it doubled the risk of heart attack.

Federal Court judge Christopher Jessup awarded $287,000 in compensation today to Victorian grandfather Graeme Peterson, who claimed the drug caused him to have a heart attack in 2003.

Mr Peterson, 59, sued Merck claiming he was no longer able to work because of the heart attack.

Judge Jessup found Vioxx was "not of merchantable quality" and was not fit for the purpose of arthritic relief.

"I have concluded that across a population the consumption of Vioxx about doubled the risk of heart attack," Judge Jessop said.

"I have held that because Vioxx involved about a doubling of the risk of heart attack, it was not reasonably fit for the purpose of being used for the relief of arthritic pain."

Outside the Federal Court in Melbourne, a spokesman for Merck said the company disagreed with today's judgement and would appeal.

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