Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that enough claimants have agreed to Merck’s Vioxx settlement proposal to keep the deal alive. Eighty-five percent of eligible claimants had to enroll by Friday and more than ninety-three percent have joined thus far. Here’s an excerpt of the article:
Claimants next are required to provide medical records that third-party administrators will use to assess what payment they might qualify for. Under the settlement plan, a claim must be based on an incidence of heart attack, ischemic stroke or sudden cardiac death. Plaintiffs must provide documentation showing that Vioxx was taken for at least 30 days and show that the injury occurred within 14 days of using the drug. Payouts will be adjusted according to other cardiovascular risk factors.
Plaintiffs lawyers estimate that, depending on age and risk factors, settlement payments will range from $50,000 to $1.5 million, with an average exceeding $200,000. Merck, of Whitehouse Station, N.J., set aside $1.9 billion for litigation costs -- not including any payouts -- and spent $1.2 billion. But plaintiffs had trouble persuading juries that Vioxx, and not other risk factors, had caused injuries. Of the 16 cases that went to trial, Merck prevailed in 11. Some plaintiffs won big, though: At the first Vioxx trial, a jury in August 2005 awarded a Texas widow $253.4 million -- later reduced to $27.2 million, including interest.