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Merck & Co. Inc., which made the controversial arthritis painkiller Vioxx, just settled an unusual class-action lawsuit involving Missouri residents who sued on consumer-fraud grounds without having shown that they incurred physical harm. The economic argument was that Vioxx did not provide what Merck claimed it would.

Vioxx was on the market from 1999 until it was withdrawn in 2004 because previously hidden clinical trials showed that it caused increased risk of heart attacks.

Merck has large operations in the Philadelphia region.

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