The Vioxx Settlement Program has reached an important milestone. More than eighteen months ago when the Resolution Program was announced, the parties indicated that they expected that final payments to qualifying heart attack Claimants would take place at the end of September 2009. Brown Greer, the Vioxx Claims Administrator, announced on Thursday, September 17th, that the heart attack final payments would be issued at the end of September as scheduled. Final payments in heart attack cases will total approximately $2.4 billion dollars.
The Vioxx Resolution Program is not only the largest pharmaceutical resolution program in history, but has set a new benchmark as the most efficient resolution program in the history of mass torts. More than 30,000 heart attack claims have been reviewed in full at this time and more than 20,400 are scheduled to be paid at the end of September. This monumental accomplishment is the result of the terrific work of Brown Greer and numerous lawyers, including Andy Birchfield, Leigh O’Dell and Roger Smith of Beasley Allen.
In addition, Brown Greer announced at a September 17th hearing that the point value for heart attack claims will range between $1860 and $1870 per point. These amounts are within 2-3% of the dollar value projected in August 2008 when interim payments for heart attack claims were begun. Interim payments have continued since that time. The heart attack final payments will result in the depletion of the $4 billion heart attack fund that was established by the program.
More than 18,000 Claimants who suffered strokes as a result of taking Vioxx have enrolled in the program. Interim payments in stroke cases began in February 2009 in accordance with the terms of the settlement agreement. To date, interim payments have been issued to over 2,800 Claimants with almost $80 million dollars being distributed to Claimants and their families. Interim payments in stroke cases will continue until final payments are made in early 2010. Stroke claims are being paid from a fund established by the settlement in the amount of $850,000,000.
Lastly, the Vioxx Settlement Agreement dictated that certain claims would be given extraordinary injury consideration under the Settlement Program. Only those claims that qualify for compensation of the underlying heart attack or stroke claim will be considered for extraordinary treatment. By the September 1, 2009 deadline, approximately 3,600 Claimants had applied for extraordinary injury treatment. Reviews of those applications are ongoing and awards are expected in both heart attack and stroke cases in early 2010.
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