Merck & Co says that a federal judicial panel has granted motions to transfer all shareholder lawsuits relating to the company’s withdrawn painkiller, Vioxx (rofecoxib) [[01/10/04a]], into one consolidated lawsuit.

The shareholder cases will be transferred to a New Jersey district court, where they will be presided over by judge Stanley Chesler. Earlier this month, the panel granted motions to transfer all the Vioxx product liability lawsuits pending in various courts into one suit, which will be presided over by federal district judge, Eldon Fallon [[17/02/05e]].

Merck, which withdrew Vioxx from the market after it was linked to an increased risk of heart attack, has been named as defendant in around 575 lawsuits, including several plaintiff groups alleging personal injury as a result of using Vioxx, and 14 shareholder lawsuits, asserting the company made misleading statements [[26/01/05b]]. Further suits are expected to follow.