Drugmaker Merck & Co. has offered to pay $4.85 billion to settle nearly 27,000 lawsuits in conjunction with its painkiller Vioxx.
The medication was pulled from the market in September 2004 after the release of research showing the drug doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke. The proposed class-action settlement could save Merck roughly $45 billion in estimated liability costs if plaintiffs accept the offer. To be eligible for the settlement, plaintiffs will have to show medical proof of a heart attack or stroke while taking at least 30 Vioxx pills over a two-week period.
The settlement will take effect March 1, 2008, if at least 85% of litigants agree to the offer. Shares of Merck jumped 3% following announcement of the settlement offer, and Standard & Poors ratings services said settlement of the lawsuit should not negatively affect Mercks value. -- by Shawn Rhea
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