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Merck Co Agree to Pay $688 Million to Settle Class-Action Lawsuits

According to Reuters, Merck & Co have agreed to pay $688 million to settle two U.S. class-action lawsuits brought by shareholders who say they lost money because the company concealed the poor results of a clinical trial of the anti-cholesterol drug Vytorin.

The federal lawsuits, led by several pension funds, alleged that Merck and Schering-Plough Corp knew more than a year in advance that the trial, known as Enhance, was a failure. However, they withheld that information from investors.

The Enhance trial had sought to demonstrate that Vytorin, a combination drug marketed by Merck and Schering, was more effective than a competing drug in combating atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in artery walls.

The companies announced in January 2008 that Vytorin did not stop plaque any better than an inexpensive statin, Zocor, in high-risk patients with an inherited form of heart disease, though it did significantly reduce cholesterol levels.

Two months later, in announcing full results of the Enhance trial at the Chicago conference, a panel of doctors urged patients to try older cholesterol drugs before Vytorin and Zetia, which Merck and Schering also sold jointly.

Merck said it will pay $215 million to settle a lawsuit brought by investors in its securities, and $473 million to settle a lawsuit by Schering investors. The settlements include no admission of liability or wrongdoing.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of securities fraud or deceptive marketing/advertising, contact the attorneys at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or 800-594-4884.

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