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On June 5th 2007, a judge who threw out a $51 million damage award against Merck & Co. last year over its Vioxx painkiller reversed himself. He reversed his decision and awarded $1.6 million ($600,000 in compensatory and 1 million punitive) to a former FBI agent who blamed his heart attack on the drug.

Judge Eldon Fallon said that Gerald Barnett could accept the $1.6 million or have a new trial. Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based Merck faces more than 27,000 lawsuits over Vioxx, which researchers have linked to increase risks of heart attack and strokes. Merck, the U.S.’s third-largest drugmaker, pulled the drug off the market in 2005.

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