[JURIST] Pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. [corporate website] Tuesday agreed to pay $58 million [Pennsylvania AG press release] to settle lawsuits brought by 29 states and the District of Columbia regarding Merck's allegedly deceptive advertising for the painkiller Vioxx [Merck materials; JURIST news archive]. Under the settlement, Merck agreed to submit all future TV commercials for its drugs to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval and to implement all FDA-recommended changes. The company is also barred from "ghostwriting," a practice in which companies generate positive press designed to appear as if it came from an unbiased outside source. AP has more.
Merck has been involved in a stream of Vioxx-related litigation during the last few years, including state and federal lawsuits in Louisiana, New Jersey, and California [JURIST reports]. In September 2007, 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. In November 2007, Merck said that it had agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle all pending lawsuits [press release; JURIST report] regarding its marketing and distribution of Vioxx.