Merck & Co., the third largest U.S. drugmaker, now faces 4,951 lawsuits over the painkiller Vioxx in state and federal courts, or 15 percent more than a month ago, lawyers said.

The number of Vioxx suits filed has increased by more than 650 since mid-July, Merck’s lawyers told U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon in New Orleans. Fallon is overseeing all federal litigation over the drug, which Merck pulled off the market after it was linked to increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Juries may hear some of those cases next year. Fallon today set trial dates for Feb. 13, March 13 and April 3 and urged lawyers to group their Vioxx claims. That requires attorneys to separate users who had heart attacks from those who suffered strokes. Those groups will be further divided by long-term and short-term use.

“Select the categories and then I’m interested in trying a case in each category,” Fallon said at a hearing. Picking one in each group will give attorneys with similar cases an idea of the value of their claims and their chances of winning at trial.

The first federal Vioxx case is set to start Nov. 28 in New Orleans. A Texas jury last week ordered $253 million to the family of Robert Ernst, who died at 59 after taking Vioxx for eight months. M????aside $675 million to defend suits over drugs.

“We are pleased with these trial settings and the prospect of things going forward on a rapid basis,” an outside attorney for Merck at Hughes Hubbard & Reed, said. “By the last part of the second ??? we’ll know a lot more about the parameters of this litigation.”

Shares of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based Merck fell 7 cents to $22.76 in New York Stock Composite trading at 3:40 p.m. They have fallen 38 percent since Merck pulled Vioxx off the market in September, wiping out about $38 billion in market value



We're here to help!

We live by our creed of "helping those who need it most" and have helped thousands of clients get the justice they desperately needed and deserved. If you feel you have a case or just have questions please contact us for a free consultation. There is no risk and no fees unless we win for you.

Fields marked    may be required for submission.
  1. I'm an attorney

Merck to pay $830 million to settle investors’ Vioxx...

Merck announced Friday it will pay $830 million to settle investor complaints accusing it of committing...

Merck to pay nearly $1 billion for illegal marketing...

American pharmaceutical company Merck, Sharp & Dohme has agreed to pay $950 million to resolve criminal...

Merck paying more than 3,100 vioxx death claims

Merck & Co. is paying claims by the families of more than 3,100 users of its Vioxx painkiller who...

Settlement limits insurers' claims in Vioxx deal

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Former Vioxx users getting part of a $4.85 billion settlement ending most personal...

Persistence pays in Vioxx litigation

Plaintiffs get close to $5B, but Merck could have done a lot worse. Attorneys who spent nearly one year...

Vioxx settlement payments to begin in August

Merck & Co., manufacturer of Vioxx, announced it will make the first payment of $500 million on Aug....

Professional and appropriate manner

My claim was handled in a very professional and appropriate manner. I was very pleased with my outcome and that the claim was resolved without having to go through a trial.

—Michael