Court approves $41.5M class-action settlement for Zetia, Vytorin

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The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey has granted preliminary approval of a settlement in a class action lawsuit involving the prescription drugs Zetia and Vytorin from Merck and Schering-Plough.

The lawsuit claims that the companies violated consumer protection laws regarding the sale of Vytorin and Zetia by marketing them as being more effective than other anti-cholesterol drugs and selling them at higher prices when, in fact, they were not more effective.

Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based Merck and Schering-Plough deny any wrongdoing but are settling the lawsuit to resolve the controversy and to avoid the burden and expense of further litigation.

The settlement provides $41.5 million to benefit consumers and insurance companies or other entities that paid for or provided reimbursement for either Zetia or Vytorin from Nov. 1, 2002, through Sept. 17, 2009.  The settlement fund will be allocated as follows: $12.45 million to consumers, $14.53 million to insurers and $14.53 million to insurers who are settling their claims individually. Court-approved attorneys’ fees and expenses will be deducted before distribution.

The lawsuit is called In re Vytorin/Zetia Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, No. 08-285-(DMC).

Those “class-action members” who do not wish to be included in the settlement are the only ones that retain the right to sue, and will not receive any payment as a result of this lawsuit.