Mistrial declared in bellwether Fosamax case

U.S. District Judge John Keenan followed through on his word today and declared a mistrial in the bellwether case against Merck over the drugmaker's osteoporosis drug Fosamax. The decision came after several days of tense jury deliberations and the urging of one juror who complained that disagreements over how to decide the case resulted in a chair being thrown at her. The judge gave the jury time to cool their jets, but promised to declare a mistrial if the jury could not come to an agreement by the close of business today.

The jury's forewoman again reported today that the jury remained deadlocked--apparently in a 7 to 1 vote in Merck's favor. In a note to the judge on Wednesday, the 7 in lockstep lamented that the dissenting juror was not following the court's order as she felt "that 'if' Merck knew about the risks that that is enough 'proof' that Fosamax caused Mrs. Boles injury," the Wall Street Journal reports. The note went on to say that the juror "feels that they have found evidence that supports their view about the risks of Fosamax, but has found no evidence of proof that Fosamax caused her injury."

The dissenting juror wrote in a separate note on Wednesday, "I need a police escort out of here--and I am afraid to come back because I can not in good conscience vote for a case because of threats."

For its part, Merck said it's prepared to retry the case. "We continue to believe that the company provided appropriate and timely information about Fosamax to consumers and to the medical, scientific and regulatory communities," the company said in a statement. The drugmaker's shares rose 2 percent in afternoon trading.

- here's the Merck release
- more from the Wall Street Journal
here's the Reuter's story
- stock news from MarketWatch