Merck to Settle Rofecoxib Class-Action Suit
Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner
The AP (11/2) reported Merck & Co. Inc. announced Nov. 1 that it has "agreed to settle a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of Missouri consumers" over its prescription painkiller Vioxx (rofecoxib). The FDA "approved Vioxx as a painkiller in May 1999," but the Justice Department "said Merck began marketing it almost immediately" off-label as a rheumatoid arthritis treatment, an indication for which the FDA did not grant approval "until 2002." The proposed agreement would settle "claims that New Jersey-based Merck violated the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act by promoting and selling Vioxx, which Merck pulled from the shelves eight years ago because of evidence that it doubled users' chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke."
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer (11/4, Sell, 346K), the agreement "calls for Merck to pay $39 million to $220 million, depending on how many members of the class are certified." Notably, the proposed settlement offers consumers the choice of two options: Based on a "one-month drug cost of $90," they could obtain a "onetime payment of $180 if they submit a claim with a declaration under oath, but provide no proof." Or, by "declaring under oath and providing proof of payment," consumers could claim "$90 for each month" they purchased Vioxx.
The St. Louis Business Journal (11/2, Weiderman, Subscription Publication) noted that the "case, which has been pending since 2004, was moved to federal court before the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals moved it to plaintiff-friendly Jackson County." The proposed settlement "must be approved by the Jackson County Circuit Court before it becomes final."
About the author:
Mr. Zambri is a Board-Certified Civil Trial Attorney and Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association has recently named him the " 2011 Trial Lawyer of the Year". He has also been acknowledged by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all of the more than 80,000 lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also acknowledged him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in medical malpractice matters, product liability claims, and serious automobile accident claims. Mr. Zambri was recently (2012 edition) acknowledged as one of the "Best Lawyers in America" by Best Lawyers, and has also been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine (2012)--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in the country.
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