Pharmaceutical giant Merck said Thursday it has agreed to pay up to CAN$36.8 million (US$36.3 million) to resolve all suits brought against it in Canada over its former hit painkiller Vioxx. Merck voluntarily withdrew the popular medicine, known by its generic name Rofecoxib, from the market in 2004 after interim clinical trials linked the anti-inflammatory drug to a higher risk of heart attacks and stroke. Since then Merck has faced numerous lawsuits over the medicine from customers. Under the deal with the plaintiffs in Canada, Vioxx users here will share in a payout of between $11.3 million and $26.3 million depending on the final number of claimants. A further $10.5 million will be set aside for legal costs. \"Merck continues to believe that the evidence shows the company acted responsibly with Vioxx, from the careful study in clinical trials involving about 10,000 patients before its approval by regulatory authorities around the world,\" the company said in a statement. The Canada deal will still have to be approved by the courts. In 2007, Merck announced a $4.85 billion deal that would allow the US pharmaceutical giant to settle more than 95 percent of lawsuits in the United States over Vioxx without any admission of liability on Merck\'s part. And in November the US Department of Justice said Merck had agreed to pay nearly $1 billion to resolve criminal and civil charges for wrongfully marketing Vioxx as a drug to help rheumatoid arthritis.