A little over 59,000 people have registered for the Vioxx settlement, and plaintiffs who submitted paperwork early could start seeing initial payments soon. Meanwhile, two big Vioxx settlement deadlines are on the calendar for next week.
Vioxx was approved for use in 1999, and quickly became a blockbuster for Merck, with annual sales of $2.5 billion. The Food & Drug Administration ordered the painkiller off the market after an analysis of patients using Vioxx linked the defective drug to more than 27,000 heart attacks or sudden cardiac deaths in the U.S. from 1999 through 2003.
Last November, Merck announced a $4.85 billion settlement with the thousands of people who had filed Vioxx injury lawsuits. Under the terms of the settlement, Merck will set up a $4 billion fund for people who claim they suffered heart attacks as a result of Vioxx, and another $850 million fund for those who suffered ischemic strokes. The settlements will be awarded on an individual bases, and the amount of money each plaintiff ultimately receives will vary.
By Monday, people who have registered for the Vioxx settlement must file a required set of legal papers. So far, a little over 51,000 claimants have turned in that paperwork.
Tuesday is the deadline for submitting medical and pharmacy records to back up claims. However, extensions are built into from July 1 to Sept. 1 to Nov. 1 and Nov. 30, as it could take plaintiffs some time to assemble all of those records.