Merck will pay a maximum of $37 million to settle all claims against its painkiller Vioxx in Canada.

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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.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer Mike Peerless said up to 2,000 Canadians may be eligible for compensation, adding that the settlement ends a ‘very long and complicated case’.

Bruce Kuhlik, executive vice president of Merck, said: “This agreement is structured to provide certainty and finality toward resolving Vioxx cases in Canada for a fixed amount.

“Under the agreement, there will be an orderly, documented and objective process to examine individual claims to determine qualification.”

Vioxx (rofecoxib) is believed to have caused tens of thousands of heart attacks and sudden cardiac death between its approval in 1999 and 2004, when Merck removed it from the market.

It was one of the firm’s top selling drugs, but Merck had to pay billions of dollars to settle multiple civil and criminal suits, including a $4.9 billion settlement to cover most of its US cases.

Merck continues to deny any wrongdoing, saying in a statement: “The evidence shows the company acted responsibly with Vioxx, from the careful study in clinical trials … through the careful safety monitoring while Vioxx was on the market, right up through the decision to voluntarily withdraw the medicine in September 2004.” The company added that this settlement “does not constitute any admission of liability.”

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