Merck Settles Vioxx Consumer Fraud Class Action

date: 11/07/2012

Merck & Co. has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit with consumers who purchased Vioxx in Missouri for up to $220 million. Vioxx is an arthritis painkiller which Merck pulled from pharmacy shelves about eight years ago due to evidence that the drug increased risk of stroke and heart attack. According to a report on, the proposed settlement would reimburse Vioxx consumers $90 for every month they purchased the medication. Patients who lack proof of purchase may be eligible for a flat $180 reimbursement.

This lawsuit was filed because Merck violated the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act. Government authorities discovered that Merck was marketing Vioxx as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis before it was approved to do so. In May of 1999, the Food and Drug Administration approved Vioxx as a painkiller, but the drug wasn’t approved for rheumatoid arthritis treatment until 2002. The Justice Department charged the pharmaceutical giant with violating marketing laws and making false statements about the drug’s safety to boost sales. The lawsuit was fought in court for eight years, but a settlement was finally reached last week.

Since being approved by the FDA in 1999, it is estimated that 20 million people worldwide have taken the drug. In 2004, Vioxx was withdrawn from the market due to concerns about the increased likelihood of heart attacks and strokes. Since then, there have been numerous lawsuits against Merck. In November of 2007, the company paid $4.85 billion to settle about 50,000 suits. According to news reports, Merck has won approximately two-thirds of all personal injury lawsuits pertaining to Vioxx that have ended up going to trial.

In April of 2012, Merck pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of violating marketing laws. The company agreed to pay $950 million to settle this charge. They did not admit to any wrongdoing nor did they acknowledge liability.

Lulaine Compere is a Deal Origination Analyst at RD Legal Funding, a specialty legal finance firm based out of Cresskill, New Jersey. For details about their post-settlement funding solutions, call them toll-free at 1-800-565-5177.

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