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Huge Vioxx Settlement

Never say never. Merck & Co., after long insisting it would never compromise the 27,000 Vioxx cases filed against it, has compromised -- and in a big way. Merck has agreed to a global settlement in which it will pay $4.85 billion to resolve the bulk of the claims. This is not a class-action settlement, the Wall Street Journal reports today, and claims will be evaluated on an individual basis. It applies only to plaintiffs who can show that they suffered either a heart attack or a stroke while taking Vioxx. "Under the agreement, Merck will set up two funds, a $4 billion one for claims of myocardial infarction and a $850 million one for ischemic stroke claims," the WSJ explains. "The amount awarded to individual plaintiffs will vary." Merck's announcement describes the qualification process this way:

To qualify, claimants will have to pass three gates: an injury gate requiring objective, medical proof of MI or ischemic stroke ..., a duration gate based on documented receipt of at least 30 VIOXX pills, and a proximity gate requiring receipt of pills in sufficient number and proximity to the event to support a presumption of ingestion of VIOXX within 14 days before the claimed injury.

The settlement was somewhat surprising given that Merck has won 11 of the cases that have gone to trial and lost just five. It will certainly be seen as a feather in the caps of the six plaintiffs' lawyers who made up the negotiating committee: Andy D. Birchfield Jr. of Beasley Allen, Edward Blizzard of Blizzard McCarthy, Thomas V. Girardi of Girardi & Keese, Russ M. Herman of Herman, Herman, Katz & Cotlar, Arnold Levin of Levin, Fishbein, Sedran & Berman, and Christopher A. Seeger of Seeger Weiss.

There is already an Official Vioxx Settlement Web site, where you can find:

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on November 9, 2007 at 05:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

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