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Pennsylvania Attorney General Corbett Announces a Multi-state, $58 Million Settlement With Merck Over Deceptive Advertising Concerning the Safety of Vioxx
Date:5/20/2008

HARRISBURG, Pa., May 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania, along with 28 other states and the District of Columbia, reached a $58 million settlement, the largest ever for a multi-state consumer protection drug case, with Merck over allegations of deceptive advertising related to the drug, Vioxx. Pennsylvania will receive more than $2.9 million.

Attorney General Tom Corbett said that in 1999, Merck allegedly launched an aggressive and deceptive advertising campaign which misrepresented the safety and improperly concealed the increased risks associated with Vioxx.

"Using Merck's Vioxx, which was a prescription pain relieving drug, carried an increased risk of having a heart attack or another serious cardiovascular side effect," Corbett said. "Merck allegedly knew about this, but continued to misrepresent the safety of their product in their advertisements until they finally admitted that Vioxx caused serious side effects and pulled the product from the market in 2004."

Corbett said that early on, Merck aggressively marketed Vioxx directly to consumers. This practice drove hundreds of thousands of consumers to seek prescriptions for the drug before doctors had a chance to gain experience with it and understand the side effects.

"Consumers need clear information about the risks associated with prescription drugs so that they can make well-informed decisions about their health care," Corbett said. "This settlement addresses all of our concerns and will restrict Merck's ability to deceptively promote any of their products."

Corbett also said that Merck allegedly engaged in "ghostwriting" positive articles and studies relating to Vioxx.

"Ghostwriting can be a particularly deceptive practice," Corbett said. "Some of these articles looked as though they were being published by an independent doctor or organization, but they were allegedly written by people who worked for, or had some sort of interest, in Merck."

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SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General
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