Jury trials in the initial suits have produced a dozen decisions in favor of the company and five in favor of the plaintiffs. Today's settlement gives a bit of certainty to both sides, the company and the plaintiff's attorneys said in a news release.
Previously Vioxx said that they were going to fight every lawsuit, but the rulings have been inconsistent. Some have been large pay offs for the plaintiffs, some have been dismissed, many are running into a statute of limitations. So Merck has decided to offer a large settlement by way of a fund that will pay out money once the claim has been reviewed.
I don't really have anything terrible curmudgeonly to say about this. I think its a good idea for the company and the plaintiffs to get something set up to reimburse them for their loss and to get as much of this as they can out of the legal system. The lawyers might not like it as much, but this isn't really about them.
I could say something curmudgeonly about the FDA and Merck both letting this get on to the market despite its obvious problems. But I think that would be beating an already dead, rotting horse. Everyone knows the FDA is broken. What the hell are we going to do about it is the real question. Lawsuits work after the fact, but it shouldn't have to get to that.