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A New Jersey federal judge dismissed a class action brought by investors of Merck & Co. Thursday, ruling that the suit was filed after the statute of limitations had run. The investors had said that Merck had deliberately concealed information from them about the safety record of its arthritis drug Vioxx. US District Court Judge Stanley Chester determined that the clock on the two-year statute of limitations started to run in September 2001 with the release of a warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration, coupled with subsequent attention from financial analysts and members of the press. The first fraud complaint against the company was filed in November of 2003. Since the lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice, it may not be filed again.

Merck pulled Vioxx from the market in September 2004 after a study showed that it could double the risk of heart attack or stroke if taken for more than 18 months. The price of Merck stock jumped by almost 10% following news of the class action dismissal.


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