Santa Clara, CA: An $830 million settlement has been reached in multidistrict litigation brought against Merck by investors who alleged securities fraud violations concerning the illegal marketing of the company' now defunct pain killer Vioxx. In 2011, Merck agreed to pay a criminal penalty of almost $1 billion over its marketing of Vioxx.
In a statement issued by Merck & Co. Inc. the pharmaceutical company denied any wrongdoing, and noted that it still faces individual lawsuits stemming from the same alleged misconduct, specifically that it marketed Vioxx for off-label uses and downplayed its risk of causing heart attacks.
The allegations made by investors are similar to those of the criminal case, alleging Merck attempted to conceal Vioxx's cardiovascular risks, and claimed that patients taking the drug in a clinical study for rheumatoid arthritis were five times more likely to suffer a heart attack than those who took the comparator drug, naproxen.
In 2004 Merck was forced to recall Vioxx. The recall, in conjunction with media reports concerning the associated risks of the drug, caused Merck' stock price to fall dramatically, according to the investors, whose claims against the company were consolidated in New Jersey federal court the following year.
The case is In re: Merck & Co. Inc. Securities, Derivative & ERISA Litigation, MDL number 1658 and case numbers 2:05-cv-01151 and 2:05-cv-02367, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.