[JURIST] New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg [official websites] Monday filed a joint lawsuit [press release] against pharmaceutical giant Merck [corporate website], alleging that the company misrepresented known dangers associated with arthritis drug Vioxx [Merck materials; JURIST news archive], causing millions of taxpayer dollars to be wasted. The suit alleges that Merck withheld information regarding the risk of cardiovascular disease to its patients, and that most of the filled prescriptions for Vioxx would not have been placed if the prescribing physician had been fully informed of the dangers. Accordingly, the complaint seeks millions of dollars in restitution for "taxpayer dollars wrongfully spent on Vioxx prescriptions." This is the first time that a state and a city have filed a joint Medicaid fraud lawsuit. Reuters has more.
Merck has been involved in a stream of Vioxx-related litigation during the last few years, including state and federal lawsuits in Texas, Louisiana, New Jersey, and California [JURIST reports]. Earlier this month, the New Jersey Supreme Court dismissed [JURIST report] a class action lawsuit filed against Merck, reversing a lower court's decision to grant nationwide class certification in the case. Decertification of the class action means plaintiffs can still file individual lawsuits against Merck but not as a unified class.