Merck notches a win in Vioxx litigation

Merck ($MRK) won a legal victory in Australia in its ongoing litigation over painkiller Vioxx outside of the U.S.

A court in Australia upheld a lower court decision that Vioxx did not contribute to a heart attack of a man there, who earlier had won a $290,000 award.

This is only one small piece of the long legal saga involving Merck and Vioxx. Merck pulled the drug in 2004 when a study indicated that it doubled the risk of heart attacks and strokes, Bloomberg reports.

The company in 2007 set up a $4.85 billion settlement fund in the face of thousands of lawsuits claiming a connection to heart ailments, even though Merck had won 11 of 16 cases in the U.S. The fund did not pertain to claims outside the U.S.

In March, Merck began wrapping class action litigation in Canada by pledging to pay up to $37 million to Vioxx patients who developed heart problems after using the drug. The settlement includes $10 million in costs and fees, and will total between $21.8 million and $37 million depending upon the number of eligible claims.

- read the Bloomberg story