Merck announced on July 17th that it will fund the $4.85 billion settlement designed to resolve tens of thousands of lawsuits related to its Vioxx painkiller. This announcement means Merck will have to honor the settlement agreement. Certain threshold levels had to be met in order to trigger the funding and all of them have been met. As a result, on August 4th the drug company will officially waive its right to walk away from the deal. Merck will then make total payments of $4.85 billion into the settlement fund, with the first $500 million payment scheduled for August 6th. Payments to claimants should begin before the end of this month.
Nearly 60,000 people have registered a claim that Vioxx caused a heart attack or stroke and there were approximately 50,000 lawsuits filed. Our firm’s Mass Torts Section, led by Andy Birchfield, was instrumental in negotiating this settlement and the lawyers and staff have done a tremendous job in meeting all of the deadlines. It’s an important day for users of Vioxx. Without a doubt, it’s significant that more than 48,000 of the roughly 50,000 people who suffered injuries have agreed to participate in the settlement program. Those large numbers are a clear indication that the settlement is a good one for the Vioxx victims and their families. It has been a long, tough battle, but we can now see the end of the litigation for our clients.
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