Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New York State and New York City Seek Restitution from Merck for Vioxx Payments

Article in the Wall Street Journal -- New York Sues Merck Over Vioxx: State and City Bring Suit, Seek Restitution of Funds Spent Through Medicaid, by Heather Won Tesoriero.  Here's an excerpt:

New York state and New York City have jointly sued Merck & Co. for allegedly concealing safety information about Vioxx, joining a half-dozen states that have sued the drug maker since it withdrew the painkiller three years ago amid concerns about dangerous side effects.

The complaint, brought by the offices of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, seeks restitution for tens of millions of dollars allegedly spent on Vioxx through Medicaid and a prescription-drug assistance program for the elderly between 1999 and 2004. States develop lists of preferred drugs that they will pay for, and New York officials might have chosen cheaper alternatives to Vioxx had its risks been known earlier.

When asked about the timing of the suit, Jeffrey Lerner, director of communications for Mr. Cuomo, said, "One of the priorities for this AG, who has been in office only 10 months, is to focus on Medicaid fraud."

The complaint alleges that "Merck tried to distort each negative disclosure about Vioxx. Merck cherry-picked outcomes from its own research, omitting material information that would have communicated Vioxx's real cardiovascular dangers."



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