Thursday, January 19, 2012

Whitehouse Station Proposes To Settle Canadian Vioxx® Cases

Not terribly surprising -- it seems the Canadian Vioxx® claims will likely settle shortly. It is consistent with the evolving approach under Chairman Frazier -- per Merck's presser, this evening:

. . . ."This agreement is structured to provide certainty and finality toward resolving Vioxx cases in Canada for a fixed amount," said Bruce N. Kuhlik, executive vice president and general counsel of Merck. "Under the agreement, there will be an orderly, documented and objective process to examine individual claims to determine qualification."

If the agreement is approved and specified conditions are met, Merck will pay a total amount of at least C$21,806,250 but not more than C$36,881,250. This would resolve all Vioxx certified class actions, putative class actions, other litigation and claims related to Vioxx in Canada.

The amount to be funded for Vioxx users in Canada will be between C$11,306,250 and $26,381,250 and will be determined by the final number of eligible claimants. Claims for myocardial infarction and sudden cardiac death will be evaluated on an individual basis by an independent administrator based on objective criteria related to various factors, including duration of Vioxx use, age and presence of risk factors. Individual awards for ischemic stroke claims will be a uniform amount not to exceed C$5,000. . . .

So -- looking pretty much like the evolving US approach -- in those later ENHANCE-era cases.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From a story in the Canadian papers:

"Eight years after more than 1,000 Canadians launched a class action lawsuit claiming Vioxx boosted the risk of cardiac problems, pharmaceutical giant Merck has agreed to pay between $21.8 and $36.8 million to settle the case.

Merck maintains it did no wrong.

Until Merck pulled Vioxx from drugstore shelves, Canadians with rheumatoid arthritis flocked to it to ease their suffering since it was approved for use in 1999.

But research in 2004 suggested that continuous use of the drug increased the risk of serious heart attacks and strokes – side effects that Health Canada knew about by 2002, according to its website.

Merck paid $4.85 billion to settle Vioxx lawsuits in the U.S. – more than 130 times the maximum amount it will pay here.

Although the payment is a fraction of what Americans received, it’s a “good” result for a pharmaceutical case and one of the largest pharmaceutical settlements in Canadian history, said Siskinds LLP lawyer Matt Baer, who worked on the case.

“It was a hotly contested litigation,” Baer said. “It’s not an unusually long time for this type of case.”

Not only did the lawyers have to get approval to file a class action suit (Merck argued that because everyone’s health is different, the lawsuits should have been separate), but there were also 18 different law firms working on the case. One firm is Saskatchewan did not cooperate, Baer said, which prolonged the lawsuit.

If the case continued in court, the complainants might have ended up with nothing like the Australians who lost an appeal in a similar suit, Baer said.

The Americans received more money because of the way their health care system works, he explained – the settlements would have covered hospital bills as well. Their legal system also allows for much higher damage awards.

The settlement, which has not yet been approved in court, includes about $10 million in legal fees and costs. Individuals who experienced cardiac problems after prolonged use of the drug – or their spouses and children – could be eligible for their portion of the money.