Lawyers will have an extra month to send in paperwork for people who want early payment from a $4.85 billion federal court settlement involving the painkiller Vioxx.
February 29th is the deadline for "enrolling" people to get the early payments from Merck & Co., which sold the drug until September 2004. Several lawyers are having difficulty gathering the required paperwork, so the deadline for that has been moved to March 30, 2008.
Those who have submitted their names and Social Security numbers by Feb. 29 and their medical and other supporting paperwork by March 30 could get partial payments by late summer. As of now, the 'census' of registrants is 58,000 people as interested in the settlement; more than 13,200 are formally enrolled.
According to various reports and to lawyers I am working with, there may be as many as 27,000 potential enrollees who claim that Vioxx cased a heart attack or stroke.
At the hearing yesterday, my friend Woody Wilner asked Judge Fallon to allow approximately 230 of his clients to be added to the list of those eligible for the settlement. According to Wilner, there were agreements with the committee of lawyers set up to represent plaintiffs in the federal litigation before Fallon, and the agreements had been in place before the settlement had been announced. The 230 had not had their individual cases filed before November 9, 2007 because the Florida SOL had not yet run and Wilner and other attorneys had no way to know the settlement's limits because Fallon had ordered secret negotiations.
Merck and the PSC committee disagreed with Wilner's argument. Stay tuned.