Merck may settle some Vioxx cases

Merck said it will consider settling a limited number of the Vioxx lawsuits filed against it. In an interview Thursday, the company's general counsel said the company is weighing settling cases which meet certain narrow criteria, particularly those in which the painkiller was taken for more than 18 months. Kenneth Fraser said the company may settle a "small number of the suits" filed against it. Fraser ruled out a "broad global settlement," however. Legal observers say the decision is an admission by Merck that its position has deteriorated significantly since the $253 million judgment against the company last week.

- see this story from The New York Times

PLUS: The fallout from the Vioxx debacle continues. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)said on Thursday the drug industry's reputation has gone from "revered to reviled" in the past three years. Story

ALSO: As expected, California's attorney general filed suit against 39 drug companies, charging they falsely inflated prices to increase profits. Story