Merck to pay out billions in Vioxx suit settlements

Drug maker Merck announced Friday it will pay $4.85 billion to settle patient injury claims involving Vioxx, a drug at the center of many lawsuits filed in southwestern Connecticut and throughout the U.S.

Analysts say the payments will save the company billions by helping it avoid ongoing litigation. Vioxx was pulled off the market in 2004 after patients complained it caused severe heart problems. A study later revealed Vioxx doubled the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Stamford attorney Angelo Ziotos says it won?t necessarily be easy for local plaintiffs to collect money on their claims. "The company says this is not a class-action settlement, instead they'll be evaluating individual cases before making payments," he says.

Ziotos also says the amount of money plaintiffs will get depends on how long they took the drug and what injuries they suffered. He says hundreds in southwestern Connecticut may be affected.

Merck says settlements will be based on evidence showing patients had heart attacks or strokes, and proof that they took Vioxx within 14 days of their health incidents.

Ziotos says those who suffered minor heart damage may be in for minor monetary awards.

Related Information:Vioxx information from Merck

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