The jury in the first Vioxx trial heard a lot of evidence last week that Merck hid the risks of Vioxx. Dr. Nancy Santanello, a senior Merck scientist was questioned about documents that showed Merck was concerned about Vioxx’s heart risks as early as 1998, even before it began selling Vioxx. Testimony showed that Merck never conducted a large study specifically designed to measure whether the long-term use of Vioxx raised cardiovascular risks- even though Dr. Edward Scolnick, Merck’s top scientist, said it was essential that Merck run such a clinical trial. Approximately 20 million people took Vioxx between May 1999 and September 2004 when Merck withdrew the drug after a clinical trial showed that it was linked to heart attacks and strokes. Merck has reserved $675 million for its legal costs in defending Vioxx suits.