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Vioxx legal bill for 2005: $285 million

That's likely just for the lawyers and associated expenses; it probably doesn't cover the cost of lost internal employee time complying with discovery requests and trial attendance. Merck had previously reserved $675 million for legal defense expenses, and has upped the reserve another $295 million, which it expects to cover costs through 2007. There are "9,650 lawsuits, which include approximately 19,100 plaintiff groups alleging personal injuries resulting from the use of VIOXX." Another 3800 plaintiffs have signed tolling agreements, meaning that they've cut a deal with Merck to forego suing in the short term; should Merck start losing Vioxx suits against plaintiffs with marginal cases, these thousands are likely to pile on. There are also 190 putative class action lawsuits, just about all of which are for claims other than personal injuries. Merck has not yet reserved any money for liability. (Merck press release, Jan. 31).

Separately, Peter Lattman reports that even Judge Higbee was willing to throw out a case where a plaintiff blamed Vioxx for his stomachache.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.