Merck racks up time in court

Attorneys for Merck and Schering-Plough are spending a lot of time in the courts these days. Now, a regulatory filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission by Merck shows that the Department of Justice will be looking more deeply into the way the companies marketed their controversial cholesterol drug, Vytorin. 

This is more bad news for Merck, who has been the recipient for nearly 140 civil class-action lawsuits regarding the drug. And the bad news has hit both Merck and Schering-Plough right in the pockets, contributing to restructuring efforts--and layoffs--at both companies. Under question is whether the companies deliberately withheld damaging study findings about the medication.

The Justice Department's Civil Decision will be determining if claims about the medication made to federal health care programs were inaccurate. Together, 35 state attorney generals are examining consumer protection laws to determine whether the drugmaker crossed any lines. 

Merck says it is cooperating with the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Department of Justice investigations.

- read the full story at the Associated Press
- see what the Wall Street Journal has to say