A pharmacist holds up a bottle of the arthritis drug Vioxx.
A pharmacist holds up a bottle of the arthritis drug Vioxx. - 
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Scott Jagow: For awhile, it looked like we would see a hundred years of Vioxx trials. But last year, drug company Merck settled the lawsuits over it's the painkiller for $4.8 billion. This week, that money starts going to the victims. Dan Grech reports.

Dan Grech: More than 97 percent of people who sued Merck agreed to the settlement. That's nearly 50,000 people. Individual payouts will range from $5,000 to several million dollars. Still, many claimants say it's not enough.

Al Pennington is a retired TV broadcaster who had a heart attack after taking Vioxx:

Al Pennington: When they see that $4.85 billion figure, the public thinks, wow, those people are going to be rich. But then a lawyer takes 35-40 percent, the plaintiff is left with very little.

Pennington says his check will barely cover the prescription drugs he now takes for his weakened heart.

Claimants will start receiving their checks in a few weeks. That doesn't mean Merck's troubles are over. The company still faces hundreds of potential lawsuits.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.