For Merck & Co., another courtroom defeat over its painkiller Vioxx would be a prescription for trouble.
The pharmaceutical company, whose fortunes soared partly on the strength of the drug's popularity, is awaiting the outcome of the second Vioxx product liability case to go to trial.
A jury is expected to decide this week whether the Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based company is liable for the heart attack suffered by Idaho postal worker Frederick "Mike" Humeston.
Closing arguments are scheduled for today, with jurors likely to get the case today or Tuesday.
Their decision carries high stakes for Merck, in part because the first product-liability trial over Vioxx ended with a $253-million verdict against the company.