Merck's Super Aspirin

9 Years after the recall of the drug Vioxx some of the Canadian victims will be compensated by a class action settlement.




In the summer of 2012 a settlement of Vioxx injury claims in Canada was presented for approval to courts in Ontario, Saskatchewan and then Quebec.  The courts were asked by lawyers for Merck and lawyers for the class action to approve a settlement that was negotiated in 2011 and announced in January 2012. For background information, settlement details and events leading up to settlement approval please read our earlier posts.

The courts were asked to either accept or reject the negotiated agreement and also approve the fees and expenses to be paid from the settlement to the consortium of law firms across Canada who were involved in the class action proceedings.  There was no jurisdiction to change the terms of settlement.  In a decision released September 18, 2012 Madam Justice Leitch of Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice approved the settlement and approved the fees, taxes and disbursements of the class action lawyers.  A similar approval decision was issued by Justice Marcotte of the Quebec Superior Court on October 4, 2012. Justice Currie of the Saskatchewan Court of the Queens Bench also gave approval but without issuing reasons on July 25, 2012.

The settlement as approved provides for the following payments to be made by the drug manufacturer Merck:

1.  $3,500,000 to be paid to Canada’s provincial health insurers to reimburse medical expenses of Vioxx victims.

2.  $1,000,000 to be paid for the cost of notices and claims administration.

3.  $6,000,000 to be paid to the class action lawyers allocated as approximately $4,500,000 for legal fees, $1,000,000 for expenses and $500,000 for GST and provincial taxes applicable to the legal fees.  This does not include any money for the lawyers representing individual claimants who will be paid from the money available to pay actual claims of Vioxx victims.

4.  $22,612,500 to be paid to Vioxx victims who are eligible for payment under the settlement.  That amount will be increased if there are over 1,500 such people to a maximum of $26,381,250. Most claimants will pay their own lawyers a percentage of their recovery for legal fees, taxes and expenses none of which are provided for in the settlement.

To be eligible for payment under the settlement a person must pass both the “usage gate” and the “event gate”.  The usage gate requires a certain amount of Vioxx to be consumed in the time immediately before the event.  The event gate requires a person claiming to have had a heart attack, sudden cardiac death or an ischemic stroke.  Stroke victims will be given $5,000 compensation regardless of the severity of the stroke or its lasting effects.  It is estimated for those with heart attack or sudden cardiac death, that after deductions for various risk factors (other than Vioxx use) and after legal costs the average person will receive $15,000 to $25,000 compensation.  That means some will receive more  and some will receive less.  The maximum in the best case would be about $100,000 before legal fees.  There is also payment to spouses and children (including adult children) of victims which is additional money up to 20% of what is paid to the principal claimant.  In every case certain medical and pharmacy records are required to prove use, show other risk factors and prove that there is a qualifying event.  The cost of obtaining records is an expense that is to be paid from the compensation received. As well most claimants will pay from the compensation legal fees averaging one third of the compensation paid.  They will also pay provincial and federal tax (PST, HST, GST) on the legal fees.  There is no income tax payable on the net compensation that victims and their families will actually receive.

The compensation being paid to Vioxx victims is clearly quite low in relation to the seriousness of having had a heart attack, stroke or sudden cardiac death.  The court considered that these events are common in Canada among persons who have not used Vioxx and that use of Vioxx is not necessarily the cause of the event.  They considered expert medical opinion on Vioxx’s role in causation noting that the connection to stroke is not as clearly proven as the connection to heart attack.  They accepted that persons with other conditions not covered by the settlement were a minority in the class and that it was reasonable and in the best interests of the class as a whole to accept a settlement that did not compensate them. The courts considered the continuing denial by Merck of any liability and the risk of the case not succeeding if the settlement was not approved.  They did consider the negative result in the Australian court and the fact that cases tried in the US had mixed results.  It was noted that even if the case proceeded to trial successfully payment of claims could be delayed by appeals. The court decided that the settlement is in the best interests of the class members as a whole.

The approval decisions had to be confirmed for enforcement purposes in the courts of all other Provinces.  This had to be completed before any claims for Vioxx victims can be submitted for processing to the class action administrator.  The Miskin law office has completed submitting Vioxx claims for processing and payment.  We have been in contact with the class action administrators who have received claims for compensation and are now processing them.   We sent claim forms to clients to sign and also have signed by family members who are eligible for compensation.  Family members do not get compensation in stroke cases.   After assessment of all claims, notices will be sent out by the claims administrator for every claim filed and payment of Canadian Vioxx claims will finally begin.  This may take many more months.

We will be contacting our clients for further information as may be needed by the claims administrator to assess their claim and also we will let clients know as soon as we have word of assessment of their claim.  The time from assessment to payment of claims may again be lengthy.


  • ian w cann says:

    august 27 2016, my mother lost her husban ,may 2003. after takinng vioxx for almost 2 years. still no money, just no justic in this WORLD ANYMORE,very sad.

  • John M Savigny says:

    Here it is Feb 13/16 my father has been dead for 13 years. Come to find out that a quebec judge is the last in Canada to sign off on the settlement before the final process of payment can begin. If he does not sign off for any reason I will be fit to be tied. My siblings and I will each receive about $1,100 and change. What a rip !! But better than nothing I suppose. I have bills to pay and the money would come in handy about now. C’mon guys get with it !!

  • Nicola Walsh says:

    Hi, cant thank you enough for all your time and energy spent on this claim. My siblings have been asking me as to the status of our claim on behalf of our late father Gordon Turcotte. Thank you in advance for your time.
    Nicola Walsh

  • janice and tim says:

    I would like to see merck have to pay interest from day one until day of payment to all of us involved. maybe then they would keep dragging their feet which only continues to save money in their pockets. Hey Murray know of a judge that could just throw this at them or else? 🙂

  • Rob says:

    I was told late 2014 before any money would be doled out.

  • Dave says:

    WOW very disappointing that lost wages were not provided in this settlement trying to survive in this economy young man with young family never been quite the same guy after this experience.Are we going to bail out the drug company’s next.Wonder how much the CEO gets payed for them. bet he never lost any wages.”I would like to thank the law firm that went to bat for me”

  • tim francis says:

    Hey Murray, any news of payments yet?

  • Debbie Facey says:

    I do appreciate that you are keeping people up to date. However it is now 2014, has anyone received any monies yet to your knowledge? Thank you in advance.

    • Valcilda says:

      Actually I think that prescription drug advertising DIRECT TO CONSUMERS should be illegal as it once was. Why? Because these ads cost billions and the pharma companies are passing these costs on in the extremely high prices they charge for their drugs in the US. Also these ads cause many people to schedule a doctor visit JUST TO ASK FOR THE DRUG BY NAME. Often the doctor decides not to prescribe it or prescribes another, cheaper and as-effective drug. And, finally many people start imagining the symptoms described in the ad and think they need the drug (when they probably don’t!).

  • Logically you would have thought that they would have assessed the claims as they received them.
    But this being Canada, the settlement will be part of our legacy to our Grandchildren.
    I guess Murray, that you and I will still be discussing this on Rocking Chairs at our Seniors Residence

  • D. R. Roberts says:

    I too would like to know (now that it is August 21,2013) how long it will take for the cheques to be mailed? No one seems to know this answer….

    • admin says:

      Everybody would like to know the answer to that. There is a process which will take many months but nobody can say when it will end. All claims must be fully assessed before any are paid. I am now guessing it will be at least spring of 2014 before anyone is paid. Usually I am overly optimistic so do not count on money arriving then.

      • Geoffrey P. Williams says:

        Thank you for the update. I have been studying the Vioxx Claim form and attachments thereto as posted by NPTRice Point Adjustment Services to whom I sent my claim. I would like to draw attention to the item headed “Points Award Criteria” which should give most claimants a general idea of the number of points that they will be entitled to. We do not of course know what $ figure this point score will apply to. If I assume for example that the figure in my case is $20000 and the points are 60-would this mean a likely settlement of $12000 ( subject to legal fees if applicable and HST)?

        Also attached is a ” Partial Termination Reduction Amount” schedule which I do not understand as there is no explanation of the term. There are five headings and for BC they are as follows:
        Merck Funded Eligible Claimant Amount $1356750 Initial MFECA Payment Amt. $678375 Class Counsel Amt. $360000 Estimated EPPC (?) amount 90 and Increased Cap Amount $226125. How do I know if any of this applies to my case and what does each category imply. Thank you for the excellent feedback to date. Geoff P. Williams Victoria BC

  • Barry Smissaert says:

    Hi Guys…. Where do I stand?
    Barry Smissaert
    Dalhousie N.B.

    • admin says:

      HI Barry, We have a very large file for you and everything looks good. We are preparing application forms for our qualifying clients to send to the Claims Administrator. We have all we need for you and you should see a form arrive for signing in the next two weeks. If other clients wish to know the status of their file please contact Angela at our office.

    • Antonio says:

      Why do we have to be bombarded with the side eftfecs of all the advertised drugs? Surely it is the doctor’s reponsibility to explore such details in discussion with the patient when tendering the prescription. The most egregious of these situations is the TV advertising for the erectile disfunction ( ED ) drugs. There are probably very few males who would not be overjoyed to have an erection that lasted up to 4 hours! What an advertising ploy! It would be very interesting to have published the numbers of males rushing to their doctors for a prescription after being tantalized by such advertising.

  • Craig says:

    Hi Murray
    Thank you for your reply.
    I did not mean to imply you were part of the reason for the delay. You have been a wealth of information throughout this process and for that we are so very grateful.
    Our lawyer is part of the class action, but, I think there is at least one other law firm in Manitoba in the class action.
    We will certainly be inquiring with our law firm as to what the delay is.
    Thank you again Murray.

    • admin says:

      To update this further we understand the enforcement orders are now complete in all jurisdictions. The claims most likely can start to be submitted about mid-April. An update to the post will follow soon.

  • Craig says:

    Hi Murray
    This certainly seems to be dragging on for a process that was described as a formality in the fall of 2012.
    Can you tell us which provinces haven’t approved the enforcement order and why.
    I can’t help but wonder if a certain law firm is holding up proceedings again.
    Is there anything we as individual claimants can do to help speed up this seemingly stalled process?

    • admin says:

      Hi Craig, It is frustrating to everyone that the approval process is taking so long. The certain law firm to which you refer is not related to the current delay. The settlement was specifically approved in Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan earlier and it is other provinces that must have orders confirming the right to enforce the settlement. This is in the hands of the firms who are part of the class action process in each of the other provinces. Since you have another lawyer that I believe is one of the class action lawyers I suggest you contact them to enquire about this. I am a lawyer representing individual clients and I am not part of the current approval process or delay. We are getting all of our files ready so that as soon as we get the go-ahead we will file claims for our clients.

  • admin says:

    The law firms who conducted the class action are receiving the $6M or so in legal costs just for that and not for representation of clients. My firm will not see any of that money. We represent clients and we are charging a fee of one third of what the client gets for that work. Unfortunately we are required to charge tax on that. It is all very disappointing…

  • Geoff Williams says:

    In your breakdown of the allocation of the funds approved by the courts so far in para. 3 yopu mention the amount set aside for legal costs for the companies involved in the class action. How does this square with your statement that most claimants will pay one third of their claim in legal fees and why are HST etc charged as well? Is that latter charge before the deduction of legal fees? Obviously the minuscule amount that claimants may receive is being diluted to virtually nothing.

  • mc says:

    why does an identity form have to be filled out for Vioxx claims?

    • admin says:

      Due to identity theft and various frauds lawyers are now required to certify that their clients are real. This means ID must be checked and copied for anyone who is making a claim for Vioxx or for any other legal matter. If the client is near us they can come in and meet with us and provide ID to be copied otherwise we ask that they take a form to another professional to certify their ID and return it to us.

    • Bastian says:

      Hi MurrayThis certainly seems to be drgaigng on for a process that was described as a formality in the fall of 2012.Can you tell us which provinces haven’t approved the enforcement order and why.I can’t help but wonder if a certain law firm is holding up proceedings again.Is there anything we as individual claimants can do to help speed up this seemingly stalled process?

  • Clair says:

    It has been a long time since your last update, has nothing happened in the last 3 months in the vioxx settlement?

    • admin says:

      Since the court approval of the Vioxx settlement we have been waiting for courts in all other Provinces to confirm the settlement for enforcement purposes which is required before applications can be submitted for payment of claims. This is taking a while but we do expect it to be finalize this month. Once that is done there will be an ad in newspapers confirming that claims may be submitted with a deadline for claims to be made. We are ready to go on many of our clients’ claims and still need a few things on others to be able to file the claims. Any client who has not heard from our office in the past 6 months should call and speak with Angela ASAP. We have recently had new clients come to us for claims and we are reviewing their situations to confirm whether they qualify for Vioxx compensation.

  • Elois says:

    I am also curious- what happen to the money that were due to us after our mother died from consuming this drug. Our mother died in September, 2003. An application was filed and documents provide showing evidence of drug consumed. Each sibling along with our father signed legal documents notarized, and there after we received a letter stating that we didn’t have a claim. I am very concerned what happen to the money that were due to each of us and our father? We still all the documents and every letter received from these Lawyers. So the family next step will have another attorney to look at all these documents.

    • admin says:

      Elois, You are in the USA and I am a Canadian lawyer dealing only with Canadian claims. Your rights may depend on what state you are in. You should see an attorney in your own state to look into this for you. Good luck.

  • Bonita Nystrom says:

    Curious – It was previously indicated that the claimants should be receiving a payout in the year 2013. Is that expected to be in the first quarter of the year or near the end of the year? It would be nice to know an approximate timeframe after waiting patiently since 2004. Thank you.

    • Julia says:

      What a joke! These people are gttieng away with murder and they nickle and dime the survivors. I say let them keep their blood money and have them and their family members take their pill for a couple of years since there is no proof. Don’t worry they will be brought to justice. It won’t be with the feable laws of this country but from a much higher power. Sure wish I knew someone who could cast a spell on these cold heartless bast%%%s.

  • outraged says:

    what a joke,is right,the lawyers and the province,get all the money.what happened to responsiblity,it should be all over the news.

  • Very Violated says:

    What a joke! These people are getting away with murder and they nickle and dime the survivors. I say let them keep their blood money and have them and their family members take their pill for a couple of years since there is no proof. Don’t worry they will be brought to justice. It won’t be with the feable laws of this country but from a much higher power. Sure wish I knew someone who could cast a spell on these cold heartless bast%%%s.

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