A blow to Merck in the Vioxx trial. “There were fireworks in the courtroom this morning as Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee came down hard on Merck’s legal team for trying to get around court rules on testimony.

The day before, the plaintiff’s attorney, Chris Seeger, made a motion to strike some testimony from Merck’s lead witness, Briggs Morrison, a vice president for research. Seeger argued Morrison went too far in discussing the results of certain Vioxx studies, since he was not sworn in as an expert witness.

In issuing her ruling on the motion this morning, the normally mild-mannered judge turned red-faced. She said she stayed in her chambers late last night to review transpcripts of the testimony and relevant case law, and came to the conclusion Merck’s legal team allowed Morrison to go too far in his testimony.”

Ted Frank analyzes what this means.

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