Merck & Co. (MRK) Chief Executive Richard Clark reiterated the company’s vow to defend itself against each Vioxx lawsuit, and said it would be “unacceptable” to pursue a global settlement of the cases.

Speaking at a Morgan Stanley pharmaceutical conference in New York Wednesday, Clark said “thinking about a global settlement or trying to put this behind us is totally unacceptable.”

“We’ve had three cases, and as you know, at least to date, we haven’t written a check,” Clark said in response to a question about Vioxx, in remarks played live over the Internet.

Merck, Whitehouse Station, N.J., has been named as a defendant in more than 9,000 lawsuits, most of which allege that Merck’s withdrawn Vioxx painkiller caused cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke, some fatal. Merck withdrew Vioxx from the market in 2004 after a study showed it heightened risk of heart events.

Merck has vowed to fight every lawsuit. Three cases have gone to two trial; Merck won one and lost one in state courts, and a federal case ended in mistrial.

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