Merck to pay $4.85B to settle Vioxx lawsuits

Whitehouse Station-based Merck says it'sgoing to pay nearly $5 billion to settle thousands of Vioxxlawsuits. The painkiller was pulled from shelves three years ago after it wasfound it doubled the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Merck faces about 26,600 lawsuits representing 47,000 people orfamily members who claim the drug proved fatal or injured itsusers. Payments would vary, depending on injuries and the length oftime that Vioxx was used. The agreement is to cover cases filed in federal and statecourts. Analysts had predicted early on that liability could reach $50billion. But after losing its first case in a $253 million verdict,Merck has won a string of civil cases in numerous states.

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