J&J; Opens Trials Over 2 Deaths Blamed on Heartburn Remedy

From Bloomberg News

Johnson & Johnson is defending claims by the families of two men who died after taking the company's heartburn medicine Propulsid. The lawsuits are the first involving the drug to go to trial in more than a year.

Jury selection was scheduled to begin today in trials in Napa County in Northern California and in New Orleans.

The world's No. 2 medical products maker and its Janssen Pharmaceutica Inc. unit halted U.S. pharmacy sales of the nighttime heartburn remedy, which has been linked to 429 deaths, in September 2001.

"Janssen denies the allegations in both cases and plans to vigorously defend both of these lawsuits," company spokesman Marc Monseau said.

The company and Janssen face more than 750 Propulsid cases across the country, J&J; said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Napa case was brought by the family of John Calvert, 46, who died of a heart attack in 1999 after taking Propulsid, according to state court filings.

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