Merck will pay $688M to settle Vytorin securities claims

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Pharmaceutical giant Merck has agreed to pay $688 million to settle claims made in two separate class-action lawsuits that accuse the company of delaying the release of a clinical trial of its cholesterol drug Vytorin to boost interest in the company’s stock.

According to an update from CardiovascularBusiness.com, Merck reached agreement in both lawsuits, filed by shareholders of the company who believe the company withheld the results of the clinical trial ENHANCE to boost its value and investments. When the ENHANCE trial was eventually released, stock value in the company dropped and investors who joined these lawsuits are seeking to regain some of their money.

Vytorin sales skyrocketed on claims that it was more effective at reducing cholesterol. Vytorin is a combination drug, ezetimibe/simvastatin, and was touted to be better than simvastatin, alone, at reducing cholesterol and preventing the effects of high cholesterol like blood clots, heart attacks, and stroke.

Plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuits were stockholders of Merck between 2006 and 2008. Their claims were filed together in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey against Merck and Schering-Plough, another company that marketed Vytorin. Merck agreed to pay $215 million to resolve the securities claims filed against it and another $473 million to settle Schlering-Plough claims.