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STIPULATED JUDGMENT AGAINST MERCK PHARMACEUTICAL FILED BY ATTORNEY GENERAL J.B. VAN HOLLEN RESOLVING A THREE-YEAR INVESTIGATION INTO THE COMPANY'S MARKETING OF VIOXX
 

Pharmaceutical Company Alleged To Have Engaged In Deceptive Marketing Of Vioxx, A Drug The Company Pulled Off The Market In The Fall Of 2004

 

MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen today filed a stipulated judgment with Merck and Company, Inc. resolving a three-year investigation by 30 states concerning the company's deceptive promotion of the drug Vioxx. In addition to a $58 million payment to the participating states with Wisconsin's share being $1,558,914, the stipulated judgment filed in the Dane County Circuit Court will largely limit Merck's ability to deceptively promote any Merck product.

 

According to the Complaint, Merck began marketing Vioxx in May of 1999 with an aggressive and deceptive promotional campaign directed at both consumers and at health care professionals. When promoting Vioxx directly to consumers and to health care professionals, Merck misrepresented the cardiovascular safety of Vioxx. On September 30, 2004, Merck admitted that Vioxx caused serious cardiovascular adverse events and withdrew the drug from the market. In lawsuits filed with stipulated judgments in 30 state courts today, the states allege that Merck's advertisements and promotional activities misrepresented Vioxx's cardiovascular safety.

 

"Wisconsin law makes false and deceptive marketing unlawful," Van Hollen said. "Where aggressive pharmaceutical marketing fails to accurately present known risks or deceptively uses scientific data, consumers can be driven to - and doctors encouraged to prescribe - medication that is dangerous."

 

Among the concerns of the states which are prohibited or regulated by the settlement include:

 

  • the deceptive use of scientific data when marketing to doctors
  • "ghost writing" of articles and studies
  • failing to adequately disclose the conflict of interest of Merck promotional speakers when these speakers present in supposedly independent Continuing Medical Education; and
  • conflicts of interest in Merck sponsored Data Safety Monitoring Boards

 

Today's judgment also requires Merck to comply with recommendations of the FDA before engaging in direct-to-consumer advertising with respect to its pain relieving drugs.

 

The lead states in the case were Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Vermont.