Florida has now joined eight other states by suing Merck & Co. over what the state alleges was deceptive marketing of Vioxx. In the lawsuit brought by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, the state is seeking restitution for all money spent by state health programs on Vioxx, plus interest. Florida’s Medicaid program alone spent more than $80 million on Vioxx between 1999 and 2004. The lawsuit alleges that “Merck’s costly promotional campaign was intended to convince purchasers that the drug was not only safe, but that they should demand it from their healthcare professionals for pain treatment.” The suit also seeks civil penalties of up to $10,000 for each time that Merck’s advertising caused a Vioxx purchase to be made, an amount that a court would have to determine. Interestingly, the Florida Attorney General says: “The company also allegedly tried to intimidate physicians and researchers who questioned the safety of Vioxx.”
Alaska, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New York, Texas and Utah have previously brought similar suits, as has New York City. Except for the Texas case, all those suits currently are pending in New Orleans under U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon, who is overseeing the bulk of the massive Vioxx litigation. None of these cases will have any effect on the global settlement that our firm reached with Merck.
Source: Associated Press
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