For those who may not recall, the Enhance clinical trial was designed to boost sales of Vytorin, which combines Zetia and Zocor, but ended in failure. And a ruckus erupted when it became known that Merck (MRK) and its partner, Schering-Plough - which it later acquired - changed the primary endpoint, raising questions about whether patients received sufficient benefit for a heavily promoted and expensive pill (read this).
As we wrote previously, the change in the primary endpoint was made without consulting the lead investigator (look here). Then, the drugmakers appointed an allegedly independent panel to review the data, but no one knew three members had financial conflicts until the names were later released (read here).
Meanwhile, several insiders, among them Schering-Plough executives such as Carrie Cox, sold huge chunks of stock, raising speculation about insider trading (see this). This set off various government investigations by the US Senate Finance Committee and various state agencies, among others (back story).
The lawsuits charged that Schering-Plough execs - including former ceo Fred Hassan - and the board of directors suppressed Enhance trial results; disseminated false and misleading marketing info about Vytorin; deceived investors about a key product and stock value, and artificially inflated the price of Schering-Plough stock, which allowed some execs, such as Cox, to reap a windfall (you can read the lawsuits here and here).
For their part, the Schering-Plough execs and directors have long maintained that they knew nothing of the Enhance trial results until after the behind-the-scenes controversy over the endpoint was publicly disclosed. The trial, by the way, was slated to begin on March 4, less than three weeks from now. Settlement documents are not yet avaiable, but will create a link as soon as possible.
handshake pic thx to o5com on flickr