ET Merck & Co. will consider settling a limited number of lawsuits over its withdrawn painkiller Vioxx, a spokesman said Friday. The drug’s link to heart attacks and strokes has spawned thousands of lawsuits and a $253 million jury verdict in Texas.
As recently as Wednesday, company lawyers were still saying they planned to fight each personal-injury lawsuit. Nearly 5,000 lawsuits, including dozens of class-action cases, that allege patients were harmed by the drug’s side effects had been filed as of Aug. 15.
“Cases we’ll be looking at concern ingestion of Vioxx for 18 months or more,” by patients with limited heart risk factors, Kent Jarrell, spokesman for the company’s legal team, told The Associated Press.
While Merck could decide to fight some cases aggressively, Jarrell said “we could decide to settle” others.
“We are not entertaining the notion of a global settlement,” he said.
Shares of Merck dipped 6 cents to $27.71 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.