A judge in a Philadelphia Court has given a preliminary thumbs up to a national class action settlement that will reimburse union health and welfare funds, self-insured employers, and insurers for losses caused by the withdrawal of Bayer’s Baycol cholesterol medication in August 2001.

The total settlement value will not be determined until all claims are processed, but it will be based on the amount of Baycol (cerivastatin) purchased. It has been estimated that those involved could receive as much as $10 million, although Bayer said in a statement the cost of the settlement would be less than $5 million, as it had already settled claims out of court with 80% of third-party payers.

Bayer withdrew Baycol/Lipobay from the market after it was linked to a potentially fatal muscular side effect called rhabdomyolysis, and the firm has already paid out upwards of $1 billion to settle claims brought by people claiming injury from the drug, without admitting wrongdoing.

Around 3,100 suits have been settled, with another 5,900 outstanding, according to Bayer’s latest published figures, although the firm claims that only a few of these are likely to require settlement.

In the USA, Baycol was co-marketed by GlaxoSmithKline, which was also a defendant in the Philadelphia trial. The final approval hearing is scheduled for June 9, and plaintiffs have until September 16 to submit claims.