US drugmaker Merck & Co, Inc, has extended to 30 June 2008 the enrollment deadline for eligible US claimants with cases filed or tolled by 9 November 2007 wanting to be part of the programme to resolve state and federal myocardial infarction and ischemic stroke claims filed against it in the United States.
Merck formally extended the 'walk-away enrollment deadline' date by which it says it could elect to terminate the resolution programme to 30 June, automatically extending the enrollment deadline to the new date.
Merck extended the deadlines to allow claimants and their counsel additional time to complete the enrollment process and for the claims administrator.
Merck said in a statement that the resolution programme has been progressing in an appropriate manner. It said, "Because of the large number of enrollments received so far, Merck is confident that when enrollments are verified, all 85 per cent thresholds will be met and exceeded." The meeting of the thresholds with enrollment documents in compliance with the settlement agreement would obligate Merck to pay $4.85 billion in installments into the resolution fund.
In 2007, Merck recorded a pretax charge of $4.85 billion which represents the fixed amount to be paid by it to settle qualifying claims.
The thresholds are: (a) 85 per cent or more of all eligible MI claims; (b) 85 per cent or more of all eligible IS claims; (c) 85 per cent or more of all eligible claims claiming death as an injury; and (d) 85 per cent or more of all eligible claims alleging more than 12 months of use.
As of 31 March the claims administrator has reported more than 28,250 eligible myocardial infarction claimants have initiated enrollment and more than 16,750 eligible ischemic stroke claimants have initiated enrollment. Of these, more than 5,500 eligible myocardial infarction and ischemic stroke claimants alleging death as an injury have initiated enrollment, and more than 27,500 eligible myocardial infarction and ischemic stroke claimants alleging more than 12 months of use have initiated enrollment.
Each of these numbers appears to represent at least 94.5 per cent of the eligible claims in each category. These numbers do not include an additional 5,500 of those who had enrolled bu whose eligibility has yet to be determined.