The big news this morning is that pharmaceutical giant Merck is handing out Vioxx claimants what could well be the biggest payout in the history of civil cases. Company officials today approved a $4.85 billion settlement to make payments out to almost 50,000 claims filed against the company involving the drug Vioxx, which many claim had disastrous side effects such as strokes and heart attacks.
The deal will take effect only if 85 percent of all plaintiffs agree to drop their cases, according to an Associated Press news report this morning. Eventually, Merck pulled the defective drug off the shelves, but many say that was too little too late. The damage had already been done. The giant settlement means that Merck will just pay out the money without admitting any fault or that it manufactured, marketed or sold a defective drug.
The deal has reportedly been in the works for several days now, according to the AP report. Those who have been following the trial will no doubt be surprised by this sudden announcement. So far, Merck has successfully defended many of these Vioxx cases. But company officials made the decision because their legal bills would run into billions over the many years this process takes to complete itself.
The next question would then be: How will the money be divvied up? That’s always the key question in any class action lawsuit. The answer to that: payments will vary from victim to victim and will mainly depend on the nature of injuries and the length of time they used Vioxx.
The amount of evidence each claimant has to show to prove the damage suffered will also count at this time – prescriptions, bills, proof of doctors’ visits, diagnostic reports – all these will count when the time comes to collect claims. Preliminary news reports suggest that most attorneys around the country are satisfied with Merck’s offer to settle and will likely advise their clients to take the money.
That will likely happen and Merck will probably try to push the Vioxx debacle under the proverbial rug. But should it go away? Definitely not. The example of Vioxx should stay alive for generations to come so it never repeats itself again. Merck aggressively marketed Vioxx and made billions of dollars in profits off of a drug that caused horrible side effects, injuries and in some cases, death! The battle that personal injury attorneys have fought with this pharmaceutical company has been a David v. Goliath kind of war.
Merck has thrown everything at plaintiffs and their attorneys including their high-powered lawyers who have helped the company win a lot of these cases. We hope these victims will be compensated in a fair and just manner, including many of Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys’s own clients who have been seriously injured by Vioxx.