As a defective drug attorney, I’ve written here many times about the drug Vioxx — both as a dangerous drug itself and as an example of the terrible consequences when powerful pharmaceuticals are lightly regulated. As regular observers of the pharmaceutical liability world know, Vioxx (rofecoxib) was withdrawn from the U.S. market in 2004, after scientific studies showed an increased or even doubled risk of heart attacks and strokes in users. To make matters worse, investigations showed that Merck had known about the risk for at least five years and said nothing to patients or the FDA, with some watchdogs accusing Merck of suppressing negative studies and fabricating positive ones. As a result, Merck has faced lawsuits across the world, including hundreds in Canada that the Associated Press reported Jan. 19 it would settle.
According to the article, Merck has set aside up to $36.9 million in Canadian dollars (US $36.5 million) to settle all lawsuits in Canada. The amount that will actually be paid depends on individual users’ circumstances, but attorneys for both sides expect it to be at least $21.6 million. The settlement covers Canadians who suffered a heart attack or their survivors; stroke victims will be eligible for a lesser amount of money. Canadian provinces and territories that paid for the drug will also be eligible for the money. The settlement follows Merck’s settlement of criminal and civil charges in the U.S. for a combined $950 million and an agreement to plead guilty to marketing Vioxx for off-label use with rheumatoid arthritis. A settlement of U.S. claims by 50,000 patients and their families was reached in 2007 for $4.85 billion.
Though this amount of money might seem staggeringly large to an individual, as a dangerous drug lawyer, I know it’s likely not much of a deterrent to Merck. Vioxx had sales of $2.5 billion in 2003 in the U.S. alone — experts believe up to 80 million people around the world had taken it at some point. Though it’s impossible for an outsider to calculate what kind of profit Merck made on Vioxx, it was clearly good for business for a while. And that “while” was reportedly about five years longer than it should have been. Results suggesting a link between Vioxx and cardiovascular problems began appearing even before the drug was approved by the FDA, and Merck has been criticized for failing to follow up. After approval, the pharmaceutical company allegedly withheld safety information from a medical journal that was submitted to the FDA; that agency also warned Merck for leaving cardiovascular information out of its marketing.
If you believe a dangerous or defective drug is responsible for your family’s injuries, you should call Carey, Danis & Lowe as soon as possible. Our pharmaceutical liability attorneys handle all kinds of lawsuits involving prescription and over-the-counter drugs that are tainted or unsafe to use according to the manufacturer’s directions. Patients are not medical experts; we trust our doctors to prescribe drugs that are safe and free of defects. But when manufacturers fail to warn us about serious risks, especially known risks, our trust is betrayed. Patients in this position and their families can hold the manufacturer legally liable with a defective drug lawsuit. In this kind of case, you can claim compensation for your illness or injury; personal losses; and all kinds of related costs, including lost income from not being able to work.
Carey, Danis & Lowe offers free, confidential case evaluations, so you can talk to us about your rights and your options at no further risk. To set up a meeting, call us today at 1-877-678-3400 or send us a message online.
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