By the way all cost associated with preventative health care comes out of our pocket since the mean evil insurance companies won't cover the cost. (ROFLMAO) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008 - 2:32 PM CDT
Texas wins $4 million in Vioxx settlement from Merck
Austin Business Journal
Texas and 28 other states will share a $58 million payment from pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., which resolves longstanding claims that the company downplayed risks related to Vioxx, an anti-inflammatory drug that was linked to thousands of heart attack deaths.
Texas' portion of the settlement will exceed $4 million, according to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
In addition to the payments to the 29 states and the District of Columbia involved in the settlement, Merck (NYSE: MRK) now must forward all its direct-to-consumer advertisements to the Food and Drug Administration for approval before airing them.
The settlement also prohibits the company from using pro-Merck "ghost writers" to author articles and medical studies and using "promotional speakers" at medical education events if the speakers' relationship with the company presents a conflict of interest.
Vioxx was taken off the market in 2004, five years after it was introduced and deemed safe by the FDA.
Several thousand heart attacks and strokes were linked to the drug, causing Merck to voluntarily pull the drug off the market.
The state of Texas has an active Vioxx-related case in Travis County District Court. In that 2005 case, the attorney general charged Merck with suppressing critical information to physicians, patients and the Texas Medicaid program.
According to court documents filed by the state, Merck failed to disclose the health risks associated with Vioxx. During the time period covered by the state's enforcement action, Texas spent more than $72 million on Vioxx prescriptions for Medicaid recipients.
Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based Merck is not admitting any wrongdoing under the settlement. Company officials said Tuesday they believe "Merck acted in good faith and that the company's activities in support of Vioxx were intended to fully comply with relevant regulations."
The "agreement enables Merck to put this matter behind us and focus on what Merck does best, developing new medicines," Bruce Kuhlik, executive vice president and general counsel for Merck, says in a statement.
Merck says it took a $55 million pretax charge in the first quarter "in anticipation of this settlement."
Merck also has allocated $4.5 billion to settle the tens of thousands of private lawsuits filed against the company by people who used the drug.
Web site: www.merck.com