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Vioxx manufacturer Merck & Co., Inc. announced today that it will pay $4.85 billion into a fund to settle most lawsuits filed over injuries or deaths allegedly caused by the once-popular painkiller medication. The agreement is not a class action settlement, as Merck will still consider claims individually before making any payments from the settlement fund. A Merck Press Release contains detailed information about the agreement and conditions for qualifying claims. The New York Times reports that the settlement impacts about 27,000 Vioxx lawsuits consisting of about 47,000 plaintiffs, and "the average plaintiff will receive just more than $100,000 before legal fees and expenses." Vioxx was withdrawn from the marketplace in September 2004, due to increased risks of cardiovascular problems (including heart attack and stroke) in users of the drug.
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