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CORRECTED: Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro Files Suit Against Merck and Schering-Plough

Lawsuit claims companies knowingly misled consumers on the use of Zetia and


NEWARK, N.J., Jan. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Merck (NYSE: MRK) and Schering-Plough (NYSE: SGP), manufacturers of Zetia and Vytorin alleging Merck and Schering-Plough violated state consumer protection laws arising from the sale and marketing of Zetia and Vytorin.

The suit was filed on Jan. 17, 2008 in the U.S. District Court in Newark, New Jersey.

Vytorin is the combination of Zetia and Zocor, a statin now available as a generic drug for about one-third of the cost.

The suit claims the companies have known since 2006 that the combination of drugs was no more effective than the generic version of Zocor in blocking the fatty arterial plaques that can cause heart attack and stroke, as it led consumers to believe.

Zetia is a brand-name prescription used to lower LDL levels by decreasing cholesterol absorption in the intestinal tract. Other cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins work in the liver.

Zetia was developed by Schering-Plough and jointly marketed by Merck and Schering-Plough, as is Vytorin.

The companies promoted Zetia heavily, advertising that by adding it to statin treatment, patients could more effectively lower LDL cholesterol which they claim would, in turn, reduce plaque in patients' arteries.

But according to the complaint, the companies had prior information that refuted that claim.

On Jan. 14, 2008, Merck/Schering-Plough released the results of a drug trial intended to prove the claim and show a correlation between lowered LDL levels and fatty plaques in the arteries, which can cause heart attacks and strokes.

While the study once again showed that Vytorin lowered LDL cholesterol rates better than Zocor alone, it also showed that the fatty arterial plaques actually grew somewhat faster in patients taking Zetia along with Zocor than in those taking Zocor alone.

The suit also calls into question the timing of the study's release. According to published reports, the two-year drug trial concluded April 2006 but wasn't announced until Jan. 15, 2008. According to the complaint, Merck and Schering-Plough knew the results of the trials but delayed sharing the findings with patients and did not change its marketing approach.

Zetia and Vytorin account for combined sales of $1.1 billion during the fourth quarter of 2007. The agreement with Merck and Schering-Plough provided that the companies split profits roughly 50-50, depending on regions.

The suit seeks the return of money to purchasers of Vytorin and Zetia, which the study shows are no more effective than the generic form of Zocor. The lawsuit will not seek relief for personal injuries that anyone may allege resulted from taking Vytorin or Zetia.

Visit to read a more comprehensive background document or view the complaint. You can also contact plaintiff's attorneys, Steve Berman or Craig Spiegel at 206-623-7292 or via e-mail at

About Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro is based in Seattle with offices in Chicago, Cambridge, Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Francisco. Since 1993, it has developed a nationally recognized practice in class-action and complex litigation. Among recent successes, HBSS has negotiated a $300 million settlement in the DRAM memory antitrust litigation; a $340 million recovery on behalf of Enron employees; a $150 million settlement involving charges of illegally inflated charges for the drug Lupron, and served as co-counsel on the Visa/Mastercard litigation which resulted in a $3 billion settlement, the largest anti-trust settlement to date. HBSS served as counsel in a $850 million Washington Public Power Supply settlement and represented Washington and 12 other states against the tobacco industry that resulted in the largest settlement in history. For a complete listing of HBSS cases, visit


Steve Berman (206) 623-7292

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro

Mark Firmani (206) 443-9357

Firmani + Associates, Inc.

SOURCE Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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