Approximately 48,000 claimants have now enrolled in the Vioxx Settlement Program. On July 17, 2008, due to the overwhelmingly positive response by Vioxx claimants, Merck & Co., the maker of Vioxx, announced that all Enrollment thresholds had been met and that it is waiving its Walk Away Right under the Settlement Agreement, effective August 1, 2008. As a result and in accordance with the terms of the Agreement, the Enrollment Deadline Date to participate in the Resolution Program has now been extended to October 30, 2008.
Currently, the Claims Administrator is actively reviewing claimants’ medical and pharmacy records (“claims packages”) to determine which claims qualify for compensation under the Settlement Program. The deadline for submitting claims packages was July 1, 2008. With the built-in extensions outlined in Exhibit 1.5 of the Settlement Agreement, claimants have until November 30, 2008, at the latest, to submit additional medical and pharmacy records. The Claims Administrator is issuing Notices of Eligibility to all claimants who qualify for compensation under the Settlement Program. According to the Settlement Agreement, a claim qualifies for compensation if:
The Claims Administrator is also issuing Notices of Ineligibility to claimants when the claimant’s medical and pharmacy records do not meet the criteria outlined above. Following the receipt of a Notice of Ineligibility, claimants may choose to allow their claim to be extinguished following an appeal process, or they may elect to return to the court system and actively litigate their own claims.
For those claims the Claims Administrator deems to be eligible, the Claims Administrator will then issue Notices of Points Awards. A Notice of Points Award provides a detailed report of how the Claims Administrator evaluated a claim, including a report of the level of injury, overall duration of drug use, label adjustments, consistency adjustments, and risk factor reductions. The Claims Administrator’s evaluation of the case whether for eligibility or points is based upon the Administrator’s objective review of the claimant’s medical and pharmacy records.
On August 28th, the Claims Administrator began issuing interim settlement payments to eligible claimants in heart attack cases. The total amount of money each claimant receives in association with a claim is determined by multiplying the number of points awarded by the dollar value of each point. Though the final point values will not be determined until all Vioxx claims are evaluated, the current estimate of a point value for heart attack cases is approximately $1915 per point. Interim settlement payments constitute 40% of the overall compensation that the claimant will receive. Final settlement payments will be made to heart attack claimants after all heart attack claims have been evaluated.
Interim payments to qualifying heart attack claimants are now being made on a rolling basis. The Claims Administrator will continue to issue interim, partial settlement checks on a monthly basis until all heart attack claims are evaluated. Approximately 30,000 heart attack claims have been enrolled into the Program. It is anticipated that all heart attack claims will be evaluated and, if qualifying, paid by mid-2009.
The Claims Administrator is also evaluating cases in which the primary injury is a stroke. Interim payments of 40% of the total estimated case value are scheduled to begin in stroke cases in February 2009 and will continue on a rolling basis. Final settlement payments will be made to stroke claimants after all compensable stroke claims have been evaluated. Approximately 18,000 stroke cases have been enrolled in the Vioxx Settlement Program. It is anticipated that all stroke claims will be reviewed and paid, if compensable, by the end of 2009. If you would like more information contact Leigh O’Dell or Roger Smith at 800-898-2034.
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