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Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corp. have agreed to pay $41.5 million to settle class-action lawsuits over their cholesterol drugs Vytorin and Zetia. Specifically, the class-action lawsuits accused them of withholding unfavorable results of a clinical trial of the two drugs.

The companies released the results of the study—the Enhance clinical trial—in January 2008. Performed nearly two years prior to its release, the study indicated that the cholesterol drugs were no more effective in unclogging blocked arteries than other pre-existing and less expensive cholesterol treatments.

The settlement money will go to more than 140 claims filed by consumers and insurers who bought, used or paid money to purchase Vytorin and Zetia. However, Merk and Schering-Plough continue to defend the efficacy of the drugs and do not acknowledge any wrongdoing or liability as part of the settlement.

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