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From Securities Regulation Daily, January 15, 2016

Merck to pay $830M to settle Vioxx class action

By Kevin Kulling, J.D.

Merck & Co., Inc. has reached an agreement to pay $830 million to resolve a class action lawsuit involving the company’s Vioxx drug. The settlement class consists of persons who purchased Merck securities during the period from May 21, 1999 through October 29, 2004, Merck said in a statement announcing the resolution.

In 2013, the federal court in New Jersey granted class action status to the suit that alleged Merck misrepresented or failed to disclose health risks associated with the painkiller. The suit claimed that Merck and two officers violated the antifraud, controlling persons, and insider trading provisions of the Exchange Act. Merck removed Vioxx from the market in 2004 after evidence showed it increased the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Under the agreement, Merck will pay an additional amount for approved attorney fees and expenses. After available funds under certain insurance policies, Merck’s cash payment for the settlement and fees will be approximately $680 million, Merck said. The agreement is subject to court approval.

The company also said that it still faces previously disclosed individual securities lawsuits related to Vioxx. The settlement does not constitute any admission by Merck or any of the individual defendants of any liability or wrongdoing.

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