Merck Wins Summary Judgment in Texas Attorney General’s Lawsuit Involving VIOXX®
WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J., - Merck said today that Travis County, Texas District Court Judge Scott H. Jenkins granted Merck’s motion for summary judgment, dismissing all claims in a VIOXX-related lawsuit filed on behalf of the State of Texas.
In that case, which was filed in 2005 by the Texas Attorney General’s Office, the state sought damages and penalties from Merck for alleged violations of the Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act (TMFPA), including a refund of all monies that the state had spent on VIOXX.
In its motion for summary judgment, Merck maintained, among other things, that the evidence showed that the company acted responsibly and truthfully in its communications about VIOXX with the State of Texas, doctors in the state and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Merck further pointed out that the TMFPA was not designed to apply to claims such as those brought by the state, and that the state had failed to elicit any evidence demonstrating that Merck had caused the state damages. After reviewing the briefs of the parties and hearing oral argument, the court rejected the state’s claims, dismissing each of them with prejudice.
“We are gratified with the court’s ruling,” said Bruce Kuhlik, executive vice president and general counsel of Merck. “Merck remains committed to communications that help patients and their physicians choose medicines based on accurate, fair and balanced information.”
Merck vigorously defended the lawsuit for over four years in Texas state court in Austin. By dismissing the claims, the court concluded that a trial of the state’s claims was not necessary.
The Texas case was the first of twelve similar lawsuits filed by state attorneys general around the country to reach a final judgment at the trial court level. A trial in the case filed against Merck by the Louisiana Attorney General is scheduled to begin in federal court in New Orleans on April 12, 2010.
Merck has and will continue to vigorously defend all of these cases.
Status of Litigation
Merck voluntarily withdrew VIOXX from the market on September 30, 2004. In November of 2007, Merck entered into an agreement to resolve state and federal myocardial infarction and ischemic stroke personal injury claims filed or tolled by Nov. 9, 2007. More than 99 percent of all eligible personal injury claimants enrolled in the program, and the program is proceeding as scheduled.
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