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Merck & Co.

Asbury Park, NJ: (Jul-23-07) Several lawsuits have been filed against Readington-based Merck & Co., the third-largest US drug maker, by customers claiming injuries from using the company's Vioxx painkiller. In a recent filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the company stated that it has added $210 million to increase the reserve to $810 million as of June 30, 2007. The reserve represents the best estimate of costs to be incurred through 2008. Merck faces 26,950 lawsuits in the US over Vioxx, which was withdrawn in September 2004 after a study found long-term users had a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes. The company has spent $258 million so far this year defending the drug in suits worldwide. Last year's costs totaled $500 million. Reports show that Merck has won nine cases that have come to trial over the drug since May 2005 and lost six, and that about 10 cases are scheduled for trial before the end of 2007. So far Merck has refused to pursue a global settlement and hasn't established a reserve for potential damages. [ASBURY PARK PRESS: VIOXX FUNDS]

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