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Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum

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AG HARDY MYERS FILES JUDGMENT AGAINST MERCK; OREGON IS LEAD STATE IN $58 MILLION SETTLEMENT

May 20, 2008

Attorney General Hardy Myers Files Judgment Against Merck And Company Resolving A Three-Year Investigation Of The Company's Marketing Of Vioxx

Oregon is lead state in record breaking $58 million settlement

Attorney General Hardy Myers today filed a stipulated judgment with Merck and Company, Inc. resolving a three-year investigation by 30 states concerning the company's deceptive promotion of the anti-inflammatory drug, Vioxx. In addition to a $58 million payment by Merck to the participating states, the judgment filed in Marion County Circuit Court will largely restrict Merck's ability to deceptively promote any Merck product.

"Although this is the largest money settlement a consumer protection multi-state group has ever received in a pharmaceutical case, the comprehensive injunctive relief obtained is outstanding and addresses all concerns identified over the last three years of investigation," Myers said. Oregon led the states' investigation and, as a result, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Consumer Protection and Education Fund will receive $2.8 million.

Today's judgment requires Merck to submit all "direct to consumer" (DTC) television drug advertisements to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval prior to running the advertisements. Merck must also comply with any recommendation by FDA to delay DTC advertising for new Merck pain relieving drugs. The states' Attorneys General expressed concerns about the negative effect of DTC advertising that begins immediately with the release of a new drug and before doctors have a chance to gain experience with the drug and understand its potential side effects.

"Merck's aggressive early promotion of Vioxx drove hundreds of thousands of consumers to seek prescriptions before Vioxx's risks were fully understood," Myers explained. "Today's action gives the FDA clear discretion and authority to assess all new Merck pain drugs and requires Merck to seek approval from the FDA prior to running television ads."

Today's judgment prohibits or substantially curtails a number of other deceptive practices discovered throughout the states' investigation, including:

  • Deceptive use of scientific data when marketing to doctors
  • "Ghost writing" of articles and studies published in journals
  • Failing to adequately disclose the conflicts of interest of Merck promotional speakers when presenting at independent Continuing Medical Education courses
  • Conflicts of interest among Merck-sponsored Data Safety Monitoring Boards

Consumers wanting more information about this settlement and Oregon's consumer protection in general may call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. DOJ is online at www.doj.state.or.us.

Contact:

Stephanie Soden, (503) 378-6002
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) jan.margosian@doj.state.or.us |
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