March 19, 2007
Merck Appeals Third-Party-Payor Class-Action Ruling
Article on cnn.com -- Merck appeals potentially costly NJ suit: Merck wants to strike down class-action lawsuit in New Jersey, vows to keep fighting cases individually, from Reuters. Here's an excerpt:
Merck & Co. made its latest case Monday to decertify a class-action lawsuit involving pain drug Vioxx, which opposition attorneys said could cost the drugmaker up to $27 billion.
Attorneys made oral arguments before the New Jersey Supreme Court after Merck had earlier failed to persuade a lower appeals court that the suit should not be allowed to go forward as a class action on behalf of health insurers and others who paid for people to use Vioxx.
Merck (up $0.33 to $43.42, Charts) withdrew its once $2.5 billion-a-year drug from the market in September 2004 after a study found it doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke in long-term users. The company is facing more than 27,000 lawsuits from people who claim to have been harmed by the arthritis medicine.
Chris Seeger, an attorney for plaintiff the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 68 Welfare Fund, said insurers and other third parties paid between $8 billion and $9 billion to Vioxx users during the five years it was on the market.
Under New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act, a court must award three times the amount spent on any product whose maker is found to have violated the law.
The plaintiffs in the class-action suit claim that Merck misrepresented Vioxx and concealed facts about its heart risks, which led the payers to reimburse users for the drug.
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