$4.85 Billion Drug Injury Settlement
In 2007, Merck & Co agreed to pay $4.85 Billion to settle claims over its arthritis medication, Vioxx. The company faced an estimated 50,000 lawsuits filed by people who experienced serious side effects including heart attacks and strokes after taking Vioxx.
The settlement was offered after the first bellwether trial in Multidistrict Litigation resulted in a $253 million judgement for the plaintiff whose husband had died after using Vioxx. Lawsuits filed against the company claimed that Merck knew about the risks of cardiovascular injury but continued to sell the medication. Unusually high numbers of adverse event reports had ultimately led to the 2004 withdrawal of Vioxx from the market.
In 2016, Merck also settled a class action lawsuit for $830 million. The lawsuit was filed by investors who claimed the company had failed to accurately state the risk of heart attack associated with Vioxx, causing stockholders to lose value in their investments.