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Shareholders Score Massive Settlement in Merck/Schering Class Action

Bruce Carton | February 21, 2013

On February 14, the parties to the coordinated securities class actions pending against Merck & Co. Inc., Schering-Plough Corp., Merck/Schering-Plough Pharmaceuticals, certain of the companies' directors and officers, and the underwriters of a 2007 Schering stock offering announced that they had reached a settlement for a combined amount of $688 million. The massive $688 million settlement will be among the top 15 largest securities class action settlements for cases filed after the passage of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, according to a report by ISS' Securities Class Action Services.

Plaintiffs in the cases were shareholders who alleged that Merck and Schering (which merged in November 2009) artificially inflated their securities by concealing material information and making false statements regarding the anti-cholesterol drugs Zetia and Vytorin. The plaintiffs claimed that when the companies later disclosed that the cholesterol drugs showed "no statistically significant difference" in plaque buildup, it caused sharp declines in the value of the companies' securities and significant losses to investors. A trial in the case had been set to begin on March 4, 2013.

The law firms of Grant & Eisenhofer and Bernstein Litowitz served as co-lead counsel in the case against Merck, and Bernstein Litowitz and law firm Labaton Sucharow were co-lead counsel in the case against Schering. 

The Arkansas Teacher Retirement System, Public Employees' Retirement System of Mississippi, Louisiana Municipal Police Employees' Retirement System, and Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board were co-lead plaintiffs in the Schering action. The Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund, General Retirement System of the City of Detroit, Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP and International Fund Management, S.A. Luxemburg were co-lead plaintiffs in the Merck case.