(Mealey's) Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. and plaintiffs' counsel in four Canadian Vioxx class actions announced Jan. 19 that they have agreed to settle the litigation for up to $36.3 million (Mignacca, et al. v. Merck Frosst Canada Ltd, et al., No. 04-CV-045435CP, Ontario Super. Ct. of Justice; Pelletier v. Merck & Co. Inc., et al.¸ No. 500-06-000437-083, and Sigouin, et al. v. Merck & Co. Inc., et al., No. 500-06-000246-047, Quebec Superior Court, Montreal Dist.; Bray, et al. v. Merck Frosst Canada Ltd, et al., Q.B. No. 1727 of 2004, Court of Queen's Bench of Saskatchewan).
(Settlement agreement available. Document #28-120202-001P.)
Merck said that depending on claimant participation, it will pay between $21.4 million and $36.3 to resolve all certified class actions, putative class actions and other Vioxx-related litigation. Claimants may object to the proposed settlement and may opt out of it, according to the settlement agreement.
The company, which is known in Canada as Merck Frosst Canada Ltd., said the settlement will provide between $11.1 million and $26 million to former Vioxx users, depending on the final number of eligible claims. It said claims for myocardial infarction and sudden cardiac death will be evaluated on an individual basis by an independent administrator based on objective criteria such as duration of drug use and individual medical risks.
Awards of up to $4,928 will be paid to Vioxx users who claim to have suffered ischemic strokes, Merck said.
Derivative plaintiffs, such as spouses and children of eligible claimants, may also be eligible for payment, according to the settlement and to class counsel.
Merck said the settlement includes fixed costs of $5.9 million for class counsel fees, $3.4 million for health insurance programs in Canadian provinces and territories and $985,836 million for administrative expenses. If administrative expenses exceed the allotted amount, the company says, those will be paid from funds reserved for Vioxx users.
Court Approval Pending
Class counsel said the agreement is subject to approval in various courts in which Vioxx lawsuits are pending. Official settlement notices will be publicized once all approvals are received.
The company said its decision to settle "is based upon the specifics of the Canadian lawsuits and the Canadian legal system."
Merck says it continues to believe it acted responsibly with Vioxx, citing "careful study in clinical trials" involving about 10,000 patients and "careful safety monitoring" until it voluntarily withdrew the drug in 2004.
1 Provincial Class Approved
The Canadian lawsuits were filed beginning in 2004. Class counsel says an Ontario Province class was certified in 2008 and a motion to appeal was subsequently denied by the Supreme Court of Canada.
A Saskatchewan Province class also was certified but was overturned on appeal, class counsel says.
Merck withdrew Vioxx in 2004 after clinical evidence emerged that the pain drug, commonly prescribed to treat arthritis, carried a risk of heart attack and stroke.
In 2007, Merck settled United States Vioxx litigation for $4.85 billion. In 2011, the company paid $950 million in criminal and civil penalties to settle a United States federal investigation.
The Canadian plaintiffs are represented by Michael J. Peerless of Siskinds in London, Ontario; Harvey T. Strosberg of Stutts, Strosberg in Windsor, Ontario; Kathryn Podrebarac of Tought & Podrebarac in Toronto; Joel Rochon of Rochon Genova in Toronto; David A. Klein of Klein Lyons in Vancouver, British Columbia; Harvin D. Pitch and James M. Newland of Stevensons in Toronto; Paul Miller of Will Davidson in Toronto; Claude Desmeules of Siskinds Desmeules in Quebec City; Irwin Liebman of Liebman et Associes in Montreal; Matthew W. Napier of BoyneClarke in Halifax, Nova Scotia; E.F. Anthony Merchant, Norman S. Rosenbaum, Evatt F.A. Merchant and Jane Ann Summers of the Merchant Law Group in Regina, Saskatchewan; Grant J. Scharfstein of Scharfstein Gibbings Walen Fisher in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Raymond F. Wagner of Wagners Law Firm in Halifax; James D. Cuming of Cuming & Gillespie in Calgary, Alberta; Clint G. Docken of Docken & Company in Calgary; E.G. Vaughn Marshall of Marshall Attorneys in Calgary; Paul J.D. Mullin of Paul J.D. Mullin in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Harvey I. Pollock of Pollock & Company in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Samuel I. Wilder of Wilder, Wilder & Langtry Barristers & Solicitors in Winnipeg; Howard A. Spaling of Barry Spalding Lawyers in St. John's, New Brunswick; James M. Poyner of Poyner Baxter North Vancouver, British Columbia; F. Geoffrey Aylward of Aylward, Chislett & Whitten in Paradise, Newfoundland and Labrador; the law firm of Roebothan, McKay Marshall in St. John's; and Murray Miskin of the Miskin Law Offices in Whitby, Ontario.
Merck is represented by General Counsel Bruce N. Kuhlik of Merck Sharpe & Dohme Corp. in Whitehouse Station, N.J.
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I tookVIOXX for ostheoarthritis & as a result I started having high blood pressure. Then in 2003 I suffered from SUPERVENTRICULAR TACHYCARDIA & I had an ABLASION done & as a result I had a blood clot in my groin & I was readmitted at the OTTAWA HEART INSTITUTE . At first of the lawsuit you said ANY heart problem & NOW you say heart attacks & strokes . That is not fair cause I was scared when I had SVT & I'm sorry if I did not have a heart attack or died,. I think SVT is very SERIOUS & I should get compensated like the others .I never had problems with my heart before all this & when I took VIOXX the problems started to come out.At least review my case & call the OTTAWA HEART INSTITUTE & you will have the proof . Sincerly yours, LOUISE GROULX
i was 24 i got blood clots from vioxx i am 34 now with no justice i need help to . college athlete very health now 80 years old .help me
Hi I was interested in having my name added for the Law suit regarding VIOX I had back surgery in 2000 and was on Viox until they took it off the market. I ended up having a Heart attack in April 2011 they really don't know why but perhaps this was a major factor. I had a stint put in my heart on Left ventical it was 99.9 % blocked. I am 52 years old, young.
My home phone number is 604-864-8743 my email is firstname.lastname@example.org