Trial Opens in Suit Against J&J; Over Death Linked to Drug

From Bloomberg News

Johnson & Johnson's Propulsid heartburn medicine was a major factor in a New Orleans electrician's death, an attorney for the man's family told jurors in federal court as arguments opened Monday in the first trial over the drug since the company lost a $100-million verdict in 2001.

"Propulsid substantially contributed to his death," Roy Amedee, a lawyer for the family of Richard Diez, told jurors.

J&J;, the world's second-biggest medical-products maker, and its Janssen Pharmaceutica unit are targets of at least 753 lawsuits by more than 5,500 patients over Propulsid, which has been linked to 429 deaths. U.S. sales were halted in 2000.

Another Propulsid case is scheduled to go to trial this week in Napa County in the heart attack death of another patient who took the medicine.

Shares of New Brunswick, N.J.-based J&J; rose $1.20 to $56.39 in New York Stock Exchange trading.

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