Merck & Co Inc (NYSE: MRK) Investor Securities Class Action Lawsuit 11/06/2003

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Company Name(s): 
Merck & Co.
Case Name: 
Merck & Co. Shareholder Class Action Lawsuit 11/06/2003
Case Status: 
Lawsuit Filed
Case Status: 
Settlement Approved
Affected Securities
NYSE: MRK
Lawsuit Overview
Type of Lawsuit: 
Shareholder Class Action
Date Filed: 
11/06/2003
Class Period Begin: 
05/21/1999
Class Period End: 
10/29/2004
Court of Filing: 
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
Date Settled: 
02/11/2016
Settlement Amount: 
$830,000,000
Deadline to Participate in Settlement: 
09/12/2016
Settlement Notice: 
Settlement Proof: 
Summary: 

The settlement includes all persons and entities who, from May 21, 1999, through October 29, 2004, inclusive, purchased or otherwise acquired the common stock of Merck & Co Inc or call options on Merck & Co Inc Common Stock, or sold put options on Merck & Co Inc Common Stock.

June 28, 2016 - The court approved the settlement.

February 11, 2016 - The court preliminarily approved the settlement.

February 8, 2016 - Parties filed a stipulation of settlement.

June 20, 2013 - The lead plaintiffs filed a corrected consolidated sixth amended complaint on behalf of investors who purchased Merck & Co Inc (NYSE: MRK) common shares between May 21, 1999 and September 29, 2004. The lead plaintiffs allege that the defendants violated the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by issuing false and misleading statements between May 21, 1999 and September 29, 2004.

June 14, 2013 - The lead plaintiffs filed a consolidated sixth amended complaint.

June 13, 2013 - Another plaintiff voluntarily dismissed, with prejudice, all claims against the defendants.

March 13, 2013 - A plaintiff dismissed, with prejudice, all claims against the defendants.

December 26, 2012 - The court denied the defendants' motion to dismiss.

September 17, 2012 - The defendants filed a motion to dismiss.

August 29, 2012 - The court ordered that the rule 10b-5(b) claim is dismissed from the action and dismissed individual defendants in reference to Exchange Act § 20(a).

August 8, 2011 - The court granted in part and denied in part the defendants' motion to dismiss.

June 18, 2010 - The defendants filed two motions to dismiss.

July 7, 2009 - A stipulation and order was filed staying the proceedings in the court pending the adjudication of the Supreme Court Appeal currently before the Supreme Court.

May 1, 2009 - The defendants filed a motion to dismiss.

March 10, 2009 - The lead plaintiffs filed a corrected fifth amended consolidated complaint.

February 6, 2009 - The lead plaintiffs filed a fifth amended consolidated complaint.

October 27, 2008 - U.S. Court of Appeal for the Third Circuit issued a judgement on the appeal of the district court's April 12, 2007 decision . According to the mandate, the judgment of the District Court entered April 12, 2007, be and the same is hereby reversed and remanded.

May 9, 2007 - The lead plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal.

April 12, 2007 - The court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss with prejudice.

January 25, 2007 - A lead plaintiff voluntarily dismissed their case and a new lead plaintiff and their choice for lead counsel were appointed.

August 2005, December 2005, August 2006 - Numerous motions to dismiss were filed.

June 14, 2005 - The lead plaintiffs filed a corrected fourth amended consolidated complaint.

June 9, 2005 - The lead plaintiffs filed a fourth amended consolidated complaint.

March 14, 2005 - The court issued an order consolidating 14 cases for multi-district litigation centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Distric of New Jersey. 8 cases were from the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey and 6 were from the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

March 7, 2005 - The case was transferred to U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

November 19, 2004 - The lead plaintiffs filed a third amended consolidated complaint.

October 1, 2004 - Another investor filed a complaint.

August 9, 2004 - The lead plaintiffs filed a second amended consolidated complaint.

February 23, 2004 - Lead plaintiffs and lead counsel were appointed and all cases were consolidated.

January 26, 2004-January 27, 2004 - Lead plaintiff motions were filed.

January 16, 2004 - Another investor filed a complaint.

November 20, 2003 - A plaintiff filed an amended complaint.

November 6, 2003 - An investor in shares of Merck & Co Inc (NYSE: MRK) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana against Merck & Co Inc over alleged violations of Federal Securities Laws in connection with certain allegedly false and misleading statements made between May 22, 1999 and October 22, 2003.

The complaint filed alleges that defendant violated sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5 by issuing a series of material misrepresentations to the market between May 22, 1999 and October 22, 2003. More specifically, the complaint alleges that the defendants engaged in a marketing campaign which included false and misleading statements concerning the safety profile of Merck & Co Inc's painkilling drug, Vioxx, and Vioxx's superiority to its rival drug, Celebrex, manufactured by Merck & Co Inc's competitor, Pfizer. On November 16, 1999, the Food and Drug Administration ('FDA') sent a letter to defendants which stated that certain of Merck & Co Inc's promotional pieces of Vioxx were false and misleading and lacked fair balance. Moreover, during the Class Period, defendants failed to disclose material information concerning the degree of the serious adverse side-effects of Vioxx, including significantly increased risks of heart attacks in patients taking the drug. Specifically, in March 2000, defendants released the results of a Merck & Co Inc-sponsored study called the Vioxx Gastrointestinal Outcomes Research (the 'VIGOR study') which demonstrated 'significantly few heart attacks were observed in patients taking naproxen (0.1 percent) compared to the group taking Vioxx 50 mg (0.5 percent) in this study.' In September 2001, defendants received another letter from the FDA concerning Merck & Co Inc's marketing of Vioxx during which, the Agency warned, Merck & Co Inc minimized the potentially serious risk of increased heart problems discovered in the VIGOR study and downplayed the adverse effects of using Vioxx with the drug Coumadin. The FDA concluded in the letter that Merck & Co Inc's marketing of Vioxx was 'false, lacking in fair balance, or otherwise misleading(.)' Despite available information, defendants failed to adequately disclose the degree of the serious adverse risks of Vioxx, contending that the FDA Warning Letter and other studies were inaccurate and/or inconclusive, and instead, continued to tout the efficacy of the drug and the revenues derived from the sale thereof. As a result of defendants' false and misleading statements, the price of Merck & Co Inc's securities was artificially inflated during the Class Period, enabling Company insiders to sell their personally held shares of Merck & Co Inc for over $175 million in proceeds, and causing injury to plaintiff and other members of the Class.

The complaint further alleges that on October 22, 2003, an article was published on Reuters reporting Merck & Co Inc's third quarter 2003 results and confirming that Vioxx is suffering from clinical trial data suggesting it might slightly raise the risk of heart attacks, and the growing perception that its pain-fighting capabilities are no better than traditional painkillers.' On October 30, 2003, The Wall Street Journal explained that the above-mentioned data was derived from another study sponsored by Merck & Co Inc which demonstrated that within the first 30 days of taking Vioxx, the risk of a heart attack was increased 39% in comparison with Celebrex.