May 1, 2008
Merck & Co (MRK.N) said on Thursday at least 94 percent of eligible U.S. claimants have elected to participate in its $4.85 billion proposed Vioxx settlement, and the drugmaker extended the deadline for the remainder to join in.
Merck said that, while it was satisfied with signing up the vast majority of potential participants, it was extending by two months — until June 30 — the deadline for remaining eligible former users of its withdrawn arthritis drug to enroll in its proposed settlement.
The company has said it would not commit itself to the settlement until at least 85 percent of eligible patients elected to participate, said Kent Jarrell, a legal spokesman for Merck.
To be eligible for the proposed settlement, patients or their survivors had to have filed a Vioxx product liability lawsuit in the United States by November 9, or have signaled officially by then their intent to file a lawsuit for alleged heart attacks, stroke or death as a result of Vioxx.
“We are very satisfied with the way the numbers are coming in,” Jarrell said late on Thursday.
Vioxx was withdrawn from U.S. drugstores in September 2004 after a Merck study showed that long-term users of the drug had twice the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Merck said more than 28,250 eligible heart attack claimants had enrolled in the settlement, along with more than 16,750 eligible stroke claimants, as of March 31.