Florida Attorney General sues Merck to recover costs associated with Vioxx
On October 1, Florida joined eight other states in suing Merck & Co. for the deceptive marketing of the painkiller Vioxx. Florida's Medicaid program spent $80 million dollars on Vioxx between 1999 and 2004, when it was pulled from the market because it doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke. The other states' litigation is pending in New Orleans in Federal Court. There has already been a $4.85 billion dollar settlement of the class action involving 50,000 people who claim that Vioxx caused their heart damage, and Merck paid a $58 million dollar settlement in May to settle claims by 29 states and the District of Columbia, alleging deceptive advertising. In early trading the day after the new action was announced, Merck shares were up 38 cents. There is so much money in the U. S. pharmaceutical market that even a major lawsuit by a state that seeks millions of dollars, with a precedential basis, does not significantly threaten a wrong-doing corporation.