The maker of the painkiller Vioxx has agreed to pay 4.85 billion dollars to settle thousands of lawsuits over the drug.
The announcement by Merck today covers more than 26,000 cases
filed against it in federal and state courts. It becomes final only
if 85 percent of all plaintiffs agree to drop their cases.
Merck also faced about 265 potential class-action lawsuits by
people or family members who say the drug injured or caused the
deaths of users.
The agreement was finalized early Friday after attorneys for Merck and the plaintiffs met with three of four judges overseeing almost all the claims.
Payments to plaintiffs would vary, depending on injuries and the
length of time Vioxx was used.
The company still faces a number of state and federal investigations.