The Second Victory for Merck in a State Attorney General Lawsuit
WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Merck & Co., Inc. said today that it had prevailed in all respects in a trial of claims brought by the State of Louisiana related to Vioxx. The case was tried before federal district court Judge Eldon E. Fallon without a jury.
In ruling for Merck, Judge Fallon stated that "the weight of the evidence indicates that Vioxx has gastrointestinal benefits as compared to traditional NSAIDs" and further stated that Merck's marketing of the gastrointestinal benefit was "consistent with the conclusions of their clinical trials."
Concerning the State's argument that it would have restricted sales of Vioxx had it known more information, the Court observed that "the State of Louisiana did not meet their burden of showing that they could and would have established an exclusive formulary and excluded Vioxx from it had the State known different information about the drug." On the contrary, the Court said that "the record shows, in fact, that neither LDHH [Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals] nor any reasonable department of health and hospitals would have attempted to establish an exclusive Medicaid formulary for the sole purpose of cutting off reimbursements of Vioxx."
“We believe the evidence showed that Merck acted appropriately by labeling Vioxx under the direction of the FDA and according to the evolving science available at the time it was on the market,” said Tarek Ismail, of Goldman Ismail Tomaselli Brennan & Baum LLP, outside counsel for Merck.
Bruce N. Kuhlik, executive vice president and general counsel of Merck, stated that "Merck is pleased with the court's decision. We have consistently maintained that we acted responsibly and communicated accurate information about the safety of Vioxx to physicians, patients and governmental authorities."
The Louisiana case is the first Vioxx lawsuit brought by a state attorney general to go to trial. This case was filed in 2005 in Louisiana state court by the Louisiana Attorney General's Office. In the only other State Attorney General lawsuit in which a Court has ruled, Merck was awarded summary judgment in a case filed by the Texas Attorney General.
Merck is represented in the Louisiana AG case by Tarek Ismail, of Goldman Ismail Tomaselli Brennan & Baum LLP and Travis J. Sales of Baker Botts LLP.
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