Frequently Asked Questions
BASIC INFORMATION
1. What is this lawsuit about?
Vioxx was approved for marketing and sale in the United States on May 20, 1999, and was withdrawn from the market on September 30, 2004. Judge Eldon E. Fallon of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana is overseeing this case. The case is known as In re Vioxx Products Liability Litigation, No. 05-md-01657. The people who sued are called the Plaintiffs, and the company they sued, Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., formerly known as Merck & Co., ("Merck"), is the Defendant. The lawsuit claims that:
  • Merck falsely marketed Vioxx as having benefits greater than "non-selective" Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen, when no such benefits had been established; and
  • The marketing of Vioxx was inconsistent with its FDA-approved labels.
It also claims that this allegedly false marketing caused consumers to pay a greater price for Vioxx instead of less expensive alternative NSAIDs (or no medication at all).

Merck denies any liability for the claims in the lawsuit and makes no admissions of any wrongdoing by agreeing to this Settlement. Both sides have agreed to settle this lawsuit to avoid the costs and distraction of continuing the lawsuit.
2. What is a class action?
In a class action lawsuit, one or more people called "class representatives" sue on behalf of people who have similar claims. The people together are a "class" or "class members." In a class action, the Court resolves the issues for all Class Members, either in trial or in settlement, except for those who exclude themselves from the Class. A court must determine if a lawsuit or a settlement should proceed as a class action. This is a class action settlement and will settle the lawsuit for everyone in the class, if approved by the Court.

Sometimes, the parties may settle without a trial. The Parties here have agreed to a proposed Settlement that includes a national Class of consumers who paid some or the entire purchase price of this drug (except for those who were living in Missouri at the time they purchased Vioxx).
3. Why is there a Settlement?
A settlement is an agreement between a plaintiff and a defendant following extended negotiations. Settlements conclude litigation but this does not mean that the court has ruled in favor of the plaintiff or the defendant. The Settlement allows both parties to avoid the cost and risk of a trial, and permits both parties to establish a just, fair and final resolution that is best for all involved. The class representatives and their attorneys decide that a settlement is the best result for all class members and the Court is asked to approve the settlement as fair, reasonable and adequate. Class Members will get money now rather than years from now, if at all. Merck will no longer be legally responsible for the consumer economic injury claims made in this lawsuit to any member of the Class. The lawyers representing the Class ("Class Counsel") and Merck have engaged in extensive, arms-length negotiations regarding the issues presented in this lawsuit and the terms of a settlement. The Parties want to settle the claims in this lawsuit and the Class Representative and Class Counsel believe the Settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate and in the best interests of the Class.
4. Who is part of the Class?
Generally speaking, you are a Class Member and are included in the Settlement if you are an individual consumer who paid (or were required to pay) for all or part of the purchase price of Vioxx before October 1, 2004. The Settlement does not include any consumer who purchased Vioxx for personal or family use before October 1, 2004 while living in Missouri.
The complete Class definition is:

All individual consumer purchasers of Vioxx in the United States (except members of the class previously certified by the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri in the Plubell case with respect to purchases made while a resident of the State of Missouri) (the “Settlement Class”), except that the Settlement Class shall include only individuals who purchased Vioxx (by paying all or part of the purchase price). For sake of clarity, the Settlement Class defined in the foregoing sentence includes, but is not limited to, all persons referenced in the foregoing sentence who also received a Post-Withdrawal Medical Consultation as defined below [in Question 9]. All other Vioxx purchasers (including any private or governmental third-party payors that may have paid all or part of the purchase price of Vioxx for use by individual consumers) are excluded. Also excluded are (a) all persons who have previously settled Vioxx-related claims, including all participants in the Vioxx Resolution Program, (b) any of Merck’s directors, officers, employees, or agents, (c) the Court, the judge’s immediate family members, and the staff of the Court assigned to work on MDL 1657, and (d) those individuals who timely and validly exclude themselves from the Class by means of the Opt Out Procedure.

You can access the Settlement Agreement, order granting final approval to the Settlement, key dates and deadlines, and other important orders and documents in the case in the Important Documents section of this website.
5. Who is excluded from the Class?
Not included in the Class are:
  • The Defendants and their present or former, direct and indirect, parents, subsidiaries, divisions, partners and affiliates;
  • The United States government, its officers, agents, agencies and departments; the States of the United States and their respective officers, agents, agencies and departments; and all other local governments and their officers, agents, agencies and departments;
  • Any consumer who has released her/his claims against Merck related to Vioxx and/or participated in the Vioxx Resolution Program;
  • Any private or governmental third-party payor who may have paid all or any part of the purchase price of Vioxx for use by individual consumers;
  • Any consumer who was a resident of the State of Missouri who purchased Vioxx for personal or family use before October 1, 2004 (see Question 6); and
  • Class members who timely and validly exclude themselves from the Class (see Question 13).
6. What about other cases involving Vioxx?
You may have already received a notice if you were a member of the class previously certified by the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri in the Plubell case with respect to purchases made while a resident of Missouri. You are not included in this Settlement if you are part of the Plubell class. This Settlement does not involve any personal injury or wrongful death claims involving Vioxx, nor does it revive any such claims.
BENEFITS OF THE SETTLEMENT — WHAT YOU GET
7. What does the Settlement provide?
Merck will pay up to $23 million to settle the lawsuit. All costs for the Claims Administrator to administer the Settlement, the cost to inform people about the Settlement, and the attorneys’ fees and expenses incurred in bringing this case and related cases will be paid out of this Settlement Amount (see Question 17).

Class Members who submit valid claims can get: (1) up to $50 in cash or (2) reimbursement for up to the actual out-of-pocket expenses paid for Vioxx and up to $75 for certain other losses. Payment amounts will vary depending upon several factors such as the number of claims submitted, the amounts claimed, the proof submitted, and other adjustments and deductions. If claims exceed the amount available, the cash payments will be reduced on a proportional basis so that all valid claims can be paid some amount.
8. How do I file a claim?
The Claims Filing Deadline in this Settlement Program was May 6, 2014. We are no longer accepting any new claim submissions. If you already filed a Claim or began filing a Claim online through the Secure Claims Portal you may continue to submit supporting documents and/or update your Claim Form. Supporting documentation may be submitted online or by mail to the Claims Administrator at the address below:

Vioxx Consumer Claims Administrator
P.O. Box 26882
Richmond, VA 23261


Documentation Requirements: To be valid, a Claim must be (1) timely submitted with all required information and documentation, (2) submitted by the individual Settlement Class Member or a family member or legal guardian (no other third-party submissions), (3) timely supplemented with additional information or documentation in response to requests by the Claims Administrator, (4) signed by the Settlement Class Member, family member, or legal guardian and (5) include documentary proof of the purchase of, and payment for, Vioxx for personal or family. No Claims submitted by third parties are permitted.

Option 1a – Proof of Payment: The following forms of proof are acceptable: (a) a receipt, cancelled check, or credit card statement showing payment for Vioxx for the Class Member; (b) an EOB (explanation of benefits) from a third-party payor that shows Vioxx was prescribed for the Member and reflects the out-of-pocket expense that the Class Member paid for Vioxx, or (c) records from a pharmacy, pharmacy benefit manager (“PBM”) or similar entity that shows Vioxx was prescribed to the Class Member and reflects the out-of-pocket expense that the Class Member paid for Vioxx.

Option 1b – Post-Withdrawal Medical Consultation: If, as part of an Option 1a Claim, you also want to be reimbursed for up to $75 in total for costs or losses in connection with any and all Post-Withdrawal Medical Consultations (defined above), you must provide documentation of the consultation. Proof of the additional cost or loss must be submitted along with a statement that your medical consultation or diagnostic testing occurred between September 30, 2004 and November 30, 2004 and was not scheduled or recommended before September 30, 2004. This option is only available with an Option 1a claim.

Option 2 – Proof of Prescription: If the proof of payment forms in Option 1a are not available you can use an alternative proof of payment to make an Option 2 claim. A Class Member may submit documentary proof of a prescription of Vioxx (including, e.g., a prescription bottle with clearly visible label) without proof of payment and/or a sworn statement of having had and paid for a prescription of Vioxx. Under this option, a Class Member with a valid claim may receive a one-time payment of $50.
9. How do I know if I have a Post-Withdrawal Medical Consultation claim?
Generally speaking, if after September 30, 2004 you arranged for and saw a doctor to get advice about discontinuing Vioxx you may have an Option 1b claim for a Post-Withdrawal Medical Consultation.

The definition of Post-Withdrawal Medical Consultation is:

Any office visit to a licensed physician to obtain advice regarding the Class Member's own use of Vioxx and/or to discuss discontinuing the use of Vioxx and possible alternative treatments for that Class Member and that occurred following September 30, 2004, which is when Vioxx was withdrawn from the market, and prior to November 30, 2004. Further, the term Post-Withdrawal Medical Consultation includes any reasonable and necessary diagnostic testing that is solely the result of the Class Member's use of Vioxx and recommended by the Class Member's physician at the Post-Withdrawal Medical Consultation, performed as a result of such recommendation, and occurred after September 30, 2004 but prior to November 30, 2004 (“Vioxx-related diagnostic testing”). However, the definition of Post-Withdrawal Medical Consultation does not include any office visits or diagnostic testing occurring during the period from September 30, 2004 through November 30, 2004 that had been scheduled or recommended by the Class Member’s physician or licensed prescriber prior to September 30, 2004.
10. How much will I get?
Your payment cannot be determined at this time. How much you receive from this Settlement depends on the total number and amount of claims submitted by other Class Members and the type of proof you submit with your claim. If claims exceed the amount available after the Court-approved fees and costs are deducted from the Settlement Amount, payments to Class Members will be reduced on a proportional basis so that all Class Members receive a payment. Your payment will not be greater than the amount of your claim, whether you make a claim for your actual out-of-pocket costs for the drug or for the one-time payment of $50. It is possible that your payment will be lower than the amount of your claim, whether you make a claim for your actual out-of-pocket costs for the drug, for other losses, or for the one-time payment of $50.
REMAINING IN THE SETTLEMENT
11. What claims am I giving up?
If you did not exclude yourself from the Settlement Class by the Opt-Out Deadline (see Question 13 below), you gave up any right you may otherwise have to sue Merck for money damages or other relief related to any consumer economic injury claims made or that could have been made in this lawsuit.

Specifically, you have released any claim relating to the purchase, price, payment, reimbursement, use, prescription, marketing, manufacture, distribution, sale, promotion, research, design, development, supply and/or ingestion of Vioxx during the Class Period that Class Members ever had, currently have, or may subsequently have in any capacity against Merck and/or Merck’s associated or affiliated companies and certain others.

However, the Settlement does not release personal injury or wrongful death claims. More information about the release is available in section 6 of the Settlement Agreement available under the Important Documents section of this website or by clicking HERE.
12. What entities am I releasing?
The Released Entities include: Merck, its parent companies, subsidiaries, and affiliates, and their past, present and future officers, directors, trustees, employees, agents, attorneys, shareholders, predecessors, successors and assigns, and any retailers, suppliers, wholesalers, pharmacies, pharmacists and physicians or other health care providers that were in the chain of distribution for any such sales of Vioxx to Class Members.
EXCLUSION FROM THE SETTLEMENT
13. How do I exclude myself from the Settlement?
The deadline to request exclusion from the Settlement has passed. The Opt-Out Deadline was November 9, 2013. If you did not exclude yourself prior to the Opt-Out Deadline, you are bound by the terms of the Settlement Agreement and any economic claims you had against Merck related to or arising out of your purchase of Vioxx have been dismissed with prejudice.
OBJECTING TO OR COMMENTING ON THE SETTLEMENT
14. May I object to or comment on the Settlement?
The deadline to file an objection to the Settlement has passed. The Objection Deadline was November 9, 2013.
15. What is the difference between objecting and excluding myself from the Settlement?
An objection to the Settlement is made when you wish to remain a Class Member and be part of the Settlement but disagree with some aspect of it. An objection allows your views to be heard in Court. In contrast, exclusion means that you are no longer a Class Member and are not part of the Settlement's terms and conditions. Once excluded, you lose any right to object to the Settlement or to the attorneys’ fees because the case and Settlement no longer affects you.
THE LAWYERS REPRESENTING YOU
16. Do I have a lawyer in the case?
Yes. The Court has appointed law firms who have been prosecuting Vioxx claims to represent you and the other Class Members as “Class Counsel,” including:

Herman, Herman, & Katz, LLP
820 O’Keefe Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70113
Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann, & Bernstein, LLP
275 Battery Street, 29th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111


Specifically, the Court designated Russ M. Herman and Elizabeth J. Cabraser as Co-Lead Class Settlement Counsel. Mr. Herman, a partner in the firm of Herman, Herman, & Katz LLP who has been practicing law for 47 years, has held several leadership roles in historic multi-plaintiff litigation, served in various bar and professional positions, secured many significant jury verdicts and settlements, lectured at a number of law schools, and repeatedly received awards recognizing him as one of the nation’s most skilled and successful civil trial lawyers. Ms. Cabraser, a partner in the firm Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann, & Bernstein, LLP who has been practicing law for 35 years, has served as court-appointed lead, co-lead, or class counsel in scores of multi-district and state coordinated proceedings, held leadership roles in cases that resulted in landmark settlements, verdicts, and precedent-setting rulings, served in various bar and professional positions, and been repeatedly recognized as one of the foremost litigators in the United States.

The Court additionally appointed Robert M. Johnston as the Pro Se Curator to provide certain legal counsel to unrepresented claimants. Mr. Johnston, who has been practicing law for 47 years, has been appointed by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana to be Curator for pro se plaintiffs (those plaintiffs without an attorney) in the Propulsid, Vioxx and Chinese Drywall multi-district litigations. He has had a very successful career specializing in civil litigation and has had extensive experience in assisting pro se plaintiffs in large nationwide MDL cases.

These lawyers will ask the Court for payment out of the Settlement Amount for attorneys’ fees and costs (see Question 17); you will not otherwise be charged for their work. If you want to be represented by another lawyer, you may hire one to appear in Court for you at your own expense. If you want your own lawyer to speak for you or appear in Court, you must file a Notice of Appearance (see Question 20).
17. How will the lawyers be paid?
To date, Class Counsel have not received any payment for their services in conducting this case and have not been paid for their expenses. They will ask the Court to approve fees for their case-related time, efforts, and results, and reimbursement for the costs they spent on the consumer claims and related actions, of up to 32% of the maximum Settlement Amount of up to $23 million or $7.36 million in total. These fees and costs will be paid out of the up to $23 million Settlement Amount.
THE COURT’S FINAL APPROVAL HEARING
18. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the Settlement?
The Court held a Final Approval Hearing on December 13, 2013 to consider whether the proposed Settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate. On January 2, 2014, the Court entered its Final Order and Judgment Certifying the Class for Purposes of Settlement, Approving of Class Action Settlement, & Dismissing the Actions with Prejudice.
GETTING MORE INFORMATION
19. Important Dates
IMPORTANT DATES
Item Deadline
FILE A CLAIM May 6, 2014
EXCLUDE YOURSELF November 9, 2013
OBJECT OR COMMENT November 9, 2013
FINAL APPROVAL HEARING December 13, 2013
20. How do I get more information?
These Frequently Asked Questions aim to summarize the Settlement. More details are in the Settlement Agreement and the other important legal documents that have been filed with the Court in this lawsuit. You can look at and copy these legal documents at any time during regular office hours at the Office of the Clerk of Court, United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, 500 Poydras Street, New Orleans, LA 70130. These documents are also available on this website under the Important Documents section.

In addition, if you have any questions about the lawsuit, you may:
  • Call toll free 1-866-439-6932
  • Write to: The Vioxx Consumer Claims Administrator, P.O. Box 26882, Richmond, VA 23261
  • Email: Questions@VioxxSettlement.com
CLAIM INQUIRIES
21. How Can I Check the Status of My Claim?
The Claims Administrator is in the process of reviewing all claims. If the Claims Administrator determines that you have submitted an eligible claim you will receive payment at the end of the Settlement Program in accordance with Section 2.6 of the Settlement Agreement (See Section 24 below). If you are missing any required documentation or if you claim is otherwise deficient you will be notified by mail or email and will then have the opportunity to supplement and/or clarify your claim. If you registered for access to the Secure Claims Portal, you can check the “Notices” section of your Portal for official notices from the Claims Administrator. You can also check the status of your claim by calling 1-866-439-6932.
22. When Will I Be Paid?
In accordance with Section 2.6 of the Settlement Agreement, no payments will be made until the Claim Filing Deadline has passed and the review process is complete for all claimants. The Claim Filing Deadline is May 6th, 2014. We do not anticipate issuing any payments until after July 2014.
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