The punitive damages phase of the Atlantic City Vioxx trial continued Monday, when the jury that last week found Merck & Co. liable for not properly warning of the dangers its drug posed to plaintiffs with heart problems began deliberation over whether the company should pay additional damages.

After a five-week trial and 14 hours of deliberation, the jury awarded $3 million on April 5 to John McDarby, 77, who suffered a heart attack in 2004 after four years of Vioxx use, and $1.5 million to his wife Irma. The panel denied damages to co-plaintiff Thomas Cona, 60, who had a heart attack in 2003 but could produce only three prescriptions for the preceding two years he claimed to have taken Vioxx.

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