Vioxx, the dangerous painkiller that was pulled from the market after research showed it was linked to heart attack and stroke, could lead to the second largest drug lawsuit settlement in history. The manufacturer, Merck, has offered to create a fund totaling $4.85 billion to pay off as many as 47,000 plaintiff groups involved in cases that allege serious damages due to Vioxx use.
Each settlement would be evaluated individually to see if they meet Merck’s criteria. To receive money from the settlement fund a person is required to have suffered a heart attack or stroke with 14 days of taking Vioxx. Individuals must have proof of taking at least 30 Vioxx pills to be paid. The more serious cases could involve settlements above $1 million.
If 85 percent of the claimants do not opt for Merck’s offer to create this settlement fund, the drug company can abandon the agreement and fight each case in court one-by-one. Previous to this offer, 12 Vioxx cases were ruled in favor of Merck and five were ruled in favor of Vioxx patients. This settlement is second only to the $20 million paid out in fen-phen injury cases.