Texas judge tosses state's Vioxx lawsuit

Chris Rizo Nov. 23, 2009, 1:31pm


AUSTIN (Legal Newsline)-A Texas judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the state attorney general against drugmaker Merck & Co. over its now-withdrawn painkiller Vioxx.

In a 2005 lawsuit, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott had sought a refund on behalf of the state for money spent on the drug. The lawsuit also sought damages and penalties for alleged violations of the Texas Medicaid Fraud Prevention Act.

Travis County Judge Scott Jenkins ruled in favor of Merck's motion for summary judgment in the case, the Whitehouse Station, N.J.- based drug maker said Monday.

In its motion for summary judgment, Merck said it has proven that the company acted responsibly and truthfully in its communications about the drug -- a Cox 2-inhibitor -- with state officials and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"We are gratified with the court's ruling," said Bruce Kuhlik, executive vice president and general counsel of Merck. "Merck remains committed to communications that help patients and their physicians choose medicines based on accurate, fair and balanced information."

The Texas case was the first of twelve similar lawsuits filed by state attorneys general around the country to reach a final judgment at the trial court level. A trial in the case filed against Merck by the Louisiana attorney general is scheduled to begin in federal court in New Orleans on April 12.

Merck voluntarily withdrew Vioxx from the market in 2004, citing increased heart attack and stroke risk among long-term, high-dosage patients.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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