Judge whacks Vioxx class action suit

Merck can now say "Whew!" when the words "class action" are mentioned. The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed a lower court's ruling that granted class-action status to insurance companies and HMOs that want to recoup money spent on the now-discredited Vioxx. It was an important legal victory for Merck; that suit had sought up to $9 billion.

As with earlier class-action attempts by patients, Merck divided and conquered by emphasizing factual differences among the various plaintiffs' claims. In this case, "each insurance company and HMO considered different types of information in deciding whether to reimburse patients for Vioxx, and they all went through varied processes with different experts in making those decisions," Merck lawyer Ted Mayer said in a statement.

In the same statement, Merck pledged to pursue all its Vioxx cases to the bitter end. Of the 15 patient cases that have come before juries, 10 have decided for Merck, and the other five for the patients. More than 4,600 plaintiff groups have seen their claims dismissed.

- see Merck's release for more info
- read this report from MSNBC

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