January 19, 2012 / 10:53 PM / in 6 years

Merck resolves Vioxx litigation in Canada

(Reuters) - Merck & Co (MRK.N) on Thursday said it had reached a settlement to pay between $21.6 million and $36.5 million to resolve all claims in Canada relating to Vioxx, the painkiller it withdrew from the market in 2004 after it was linked to heart attacks and strokes.

The No. 2 U.S. drugmaker said the agreement, if approved, would cover all class action lawsuits and other litigation related to Vioxx in Canada. It would include payments to eligible claimants who alleged heart attacks and stroke from use of the product, as well as legal fees and administrative expenses for Canadian provinces and territories.

The settlement comes two months after Merck agreed to pay the U.S. government roughly $950 million to settle criminal and civil charges that it promoted Vioxx for treating rheumatoid arthritis before the pill had been approved for that condition by U.S. regulators.

Merck’s largest Vioxx settlement, however, came in 2007, when the company agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle lawsuits filed by thousands of former U.S. Vioxx users who alleged harm from the medicine.

Reporting by Ransdell Pierson in New York

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