Medtronic Defibrillator

NEW ORLEANS -- Merck & Co. announced that it agreed to pay about $4.85 billion to settle a significant portion of the claims over injuries allegedly linked to its Vioxx painkiller after insisting for years that it would fight all 27,000 cases filed rather than compromise.

The drug maker said if certain conditions under the agreement are met, Merck will pay a fixed amount of $4.85 billion into a settlement fund for qualifying claims that enter into the resolution process.

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