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Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro: Merck Settles Lawsuits over Prescription Pain Killer Vioxx.

BOSTON, Aug. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP today announced certain parties reached a $65 million settlement with Merck and Company, Inc. on behalf of health benefit providers who purchased Vioxx in a suit claiming the pharmaceutical giant launched misleading marketing campaigns for its drugs. A separate $15 million common benefit fund has been established to cover attorneys' fees that will revert to the settling parties if not awarded.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080317/AQM144LOGO)

Lawsuits pending in New Jersey state court and the Eastern District of Louisiana claimed Merck misled physicians, consumers, and health benefit providers when it touted Vioxx as a superior product to other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) when the drug had no appreciable difference than less expensive medications.

Merck agreed to settle the Vioxx personal-injury litigation for $4.85 billion back in 2007, but the third-party payer litigation had continued.

"This is an example of private litigation playing a major role in providing remedies for private healthcare fraud and abuse," said Tom Sobol, partner at Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro and chair of the private third party payor bellwether trial committee.

The lawsuits allege Merck used dubious tactics to undermine the FDA approval process of both drugs.

Vioxx, an NSAID, was originally approved by the FDA in 1999. Plaintiffs allege that Merck promoted, marketed, sold, and distributed Vioxx as a much safer and more effective pain reliever than other NSAIDs, such as aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen, despite knowing that Vioxx was in fact no more effective than other NSAIDs and associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events.

In 2000, sales of Vioxx exceeded $2 billion and represented 23 percent of the total NSAIDs market, despite the significantly higher cost of Vioxx as compared to other pain relievers in the same family of drugs. On September 30, 2004, Merck withdrew Vioxx from the U.S. market. The withdrawal was due to safety concerns over an increased risk of cardiovascular events in patients using the drug for eighteen months or longer.

The $65 million settlement and $15 million common benefit agreement are still pending upon court approval and disbursement guidelines.

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro served as lead counsel in the third party payors' cases in the MDL. More information regarding the settlement and each case is available on the firm's Web site at http://www.hbsslaw.com/.

About Hagens Berman

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro is based in Seattle with offices in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Francisco. Since the firm's founding in 1993, it has developed a nationally recognized practice in class action and complex litigation. Among recent successes, HBSS has negotiated a pending $300 million settlement as lead counsel in the DRAM memory antitrust litigation; a $340 million recovery on behalf of Enron employees which is awaiting distribution; a $150 million settlement involving charges of illegally inflated charges for the drug Lupron, and served as co-counsel on the Visa/Mastercard litigation which resulted in a $3 billion settlement, the largest anti-trust settlement to date. HBSS also served as counsel in a $850 million settlement in the Washington Public Power Supply litigation and represented Washington and 12 other states in lawsuits against the tobacco industry that resulted in the largest settlement in the history of litigation. For a complete listing of HBSS cases, visit http://www.hbsslaw.com/.

CONTACT: Mark Firmani, +1-206-443-9357, mark@firmani.com, for Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro

Web Site: http://www.hbsslaw.com/
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Date:Aug 3, 2009
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