Final word on Vioxx painkiller that caused heart attacks and stroke?
Last week, a paid administrator reported to a federal judge that Merck & Co. ultimately paid compensation to the families of 3,468 patients who suffered strokes or heart attacks as a result of taking Vioxx. After the drug was belatedly removed from the market in 2004, a $4.85 billion dollar settlement fund was created. Among the recipients of compensation were the families of 2,878 Vioxx heart attack fatalities and 590 stroke fatalities.
Researchers determined that taking Vioxx literally doubled the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke among patients. The compensation fund was created after Merck lost about one-third of the cases it tried. The fund weighed factors such as user age, duration of use, and other health risks (e.g. obesity or hypertension) in calculating individual payouts. More than 59,000 families originally sought compensation. 1343 were deemed ineligible and 99.9 have now been resolved by the settlement program. A total of 20, 591 heart attack claims merited payment under the program, with patients or their families receiving an average of $186,825.00. The family of a fatal heart attack victim received, on average, $374,112.00. More than 12,000 stroke victims were ultimately compensated an average of $61,165.00. The payment to the families of fatal stroke victims averaged $119,618.00. Under Michigan law, no lawsuits could be filed against Merck because the drug was initially approved for sale by the FDA.