[JURIST] A federal judge in New Orleans Wednesday rejected [order, PDF] a bid to have all federal lawsuits [consolidated litigation website] against Merck & Co. [corporate website] brought in connection with the withdrawn painkiller Vioxx [JURIST news archive] consolidated in a single national class action against the company. US District Judge Eldon Fallon [JURIST news archive], who is responsible for co-ordinating pre-trial procedures [JURIST report] in the federal cases, said it made more sense to have the cases tried in their respective states of origin, but did not rule on specific state-based class actions.
The suggested national class action would have proceeded under the laws of New Jersey, where Merck has its worldwide headquarters. There are currently some 7000 federal complaints against Merck in connection with Vioxx, including some 160 class actions. Merck pulled Vioxx from the market in September 2004 after a study showed that it could double the risk of heart attack or stroke if taken for more than 18 months. Merck has set aside $1 billion to fight every Vioxx court challenge. AP has more.