New Twist in Vioxx Trial

A pathologist’s testimony in the nation’s first Vioxx trial has dealt a blow to Vioxx’s manufacturer Merck & Co. Dr. Maria Araneta the pathologist who performed the crucial 2001 autopsy on Robert Ernst stated in deposition testimony that Ernst’s death from arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat, was probably brought on by a heart attack even though such an admission was not noted in her autopsy report. Her opinion counters Vioxx maker Merck & Co.’s reliance on her report to bolster its position that Mr. Ernst didn’t have a heart attack. “Arrhythmia does not spontaneously occur. Something must trigger it,” Dr. Araneta stated in her deposition on Tuesday.