The split verdict in the first trial of a pair of long-term Vioxx users’ cases against Merck & Co. would support its strategy of battling each claim rather than settling the more than 10,000 cases, litigators say.

Although an Atlantic City, N.J., jury said that the Whitehouse Station, N.J., pharmaceutical giant failed to adequately warn John McDarby, 77, and Thomas Cona, 60, of the heart risk factors of taking Vioxx, it awarded $13.5 million to McDarby and sent Cona home with only the $45 he had paid for the product. Both were long-term users of the drug. The latest results bring the trial tally to two wins apiece.

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