By Birmingham News business staff

Montgomery law firm Beasley, Allen is on the winning side of a $4.85 billion settlement for users of the painkiller Vioxx who claim they were harmed by the drug.

Beasley Allen represents one of the lead plaintiffs in a case that has consolidated the claims of thousands of people. The firm said today New Jersey-based drugmaker Merck & Co. agreed to the settlement after five years of negotiations.

Merck has faced thousands of lawsuits over allegations Vioxx increased the risk of heart attack and stroke. Merck pulled the prescription drug from the market in 2004.

The settlement is the biggest this year in the United States. It follows 19 civil trials around the country since August 2005 that have seen everything from hung juries to verdicts in favor of either side.

"In light of significant costs and delay that would result in protracted litigation, the settlement program will ensure that those who suffered injuries as a result of Vioxx are compensated fairly and efficiently," Beasley Allen said in a statement.



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