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(H1) Vioxx Lawyer: FDA study said VIOXX ® contributed to 27,785 heart attacks or deaths.

A new analysis published online by the British Jurnal The Lancet could help fuel the lawsuits.   Swiss researchers led by Peter Juni of the University of Bern pooled results from 29 studies of VIOXX ® and found that people who took it had more than   double the risk of heart attack than those given   dummy pills or other painkillers.

Richard Evans, an analyst at Stanford C. Bernstein Research. He estimates Merck's legal costs could reach $12 billion.

Experts estimate that Merck will pay between $100,000 to $300,000 per settlement.

Wyeth took its drugs off the market in 1997 and has paid out $13.6 billion in legal fees and settlements of its $16.6 billion reserve   -- believed to be the biggest amount ever paid by a pharmaceutical company over a problem drug.

Baycol was withdrawn in 2001 and Bayer has paid out $1.09 billion so far.

Only 6 million individuals took Wyeth's diet drugs while 20 million Americans took VIOXX ®.   That has led some observers to believe VIOXX ®'s payout could be larger.

Sept 30, 2004 - Merck Announces Voluntary Worldwide Withdrawal of VIOXX ®

Merck pulled VIOXX ®, arthritis and acute pain medicine, from the market today after a study confirmed that it increases the risk of serious cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes.

"We are taking this action because we believe it best serves the interests of patients," Merck Chairman and CEO Raymond V. Gilmartin said in a press release.

The company said its decision to withdraw VIOXX ® from the market is based on new three-year data from a colon cancer trial.

"In this study, there was an increased relative risk for confirmed cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, beginning after 18 months of treatment in the patients taking VIOXX ® compared to those taking placebo," Merck said in a press release.

Read Full Press Release at Merck.com http://www.merck.com/newsroom/press_releases/product/2004_0930.html