Merck to Settle Suits for $4.85B
Deal will be official once 85% of plaintiffs agree
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2007 5:19 AM CST
An employee walks past a stained-glass window, bearing Merck & Co.'s name, as he walks to the elevator at the company's headquarters in a Whitehouse Station, N.J. file photo from Sept. 30, 2004. (AP Photo/Daniel...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Merck has agreed to shell out $4.85 billion to settle 27,000 Vioxx lawsuits brought by plaintiffs who argued that the pain medication damaged health and caused deaths. The agreement, one of the largest in history, must still be approved by 85% of the plaintiffs, but it's likely to go through, reports the New York Times.

Individual payments will vary, but the settlement works out to some $100,000 per person  before legal fees, which can grab as much as 50%. The settlement will end the threat of Merck being bankrupted by the lawsuits. But the company still faces civil and criminal investigations into how Merck responded to the discovery that the drug was linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.