Both sides in the Vytorin®-Zetia® federal Securities Class Actions (Legacy Schering-Plough version: 08-CV-397, USDC, NJ; Merck version 08-CV-2177) took one more small but important step toward finalizing the settlement, and paying the claimants all that D&O insurance money (way to go, “Fast” Fred!). But the path ahead is still rather substantial. [Backgrounders here, and here. New Merck had long ago set aside all of the needed funds — and so, there will be no future financial statement impact from the payouts. What will likely continue though, is the sales trend erosion, for both of these cholesterol management drugs.]
Yesterday, Judge Cavanaugh agreed to decide — as early as July 1, 2013 — on preliminary approval orders in the cases. That would allow for a mailing of notices to all affacted Merck (and legacy Schering-Plough) common stockholders as early as the following week.
The current notice process will be triggered by preliminary approval, which I will predict Judge Cavanaugh will grant. That decision could be handed down by Judge Cavanaugh as early as July 1 2013. However, both sides estimate that even with prelimnary approval on July 1, the date for the final approval hearings, given the other time frames set out in the order — primarily the timelines needed for responses from perhaps hundreds of thousands of securities holders — will need to be no earlier than September 30, 2013.
It is shaping up to look like the actual payouts may begin either as a Christmas present in 2013, or a Valentines 2014 event. So it goes.