The lawsuits involved allegations arising from the Enhance clinical trial, whose results released in January 2008, raised serious questions about the net worth of Zetia, and Vytorin. Merck and Schering-Plough, which have agreed to merge, sell the blockbuster medicines through a joint venture agreement. Vytorin combines Zetia and an older statin drug, Zocor, into one single pill to consumers. The settlement will resolve all the class-action lawsuits that seek economic damages related to the purchase of the two drugs, the companies said. They have disclosed about 145 such lawsuits pending in federal court in the State of New Jersey.
Merck and Schering both recorded charges related to the settlement in the second quarter. The settlement is not an admission of misconduct or liability, the companies said in a statement. The agreement involves two settlements:
1. one with consumers, and;
2. other entities that purchased the drugs, and one with health plans.
The settlement with consumers is subject to court approval in New Jersey; the other settlement is not subject to court approval. The Enhance study found that Vytorin was no more effective in reducing plaque in the carotid arteries than an inexpensive generic form of Zocor (simvastatin). Sales of Vytorin and Zetia, which had become blockbuster products, plunged when results of the trial became known. Last month, the companies agreed to pay $5.4 million to 35 states to settle allegations they delayed negative findings from the Enhance study.