Merck & Co., the second-largest pharmaceutical company in America, agreed to pay $950 million in a settlement with federal prosecutors. The settlement resulted from their “misbranding” of Vioxx, a painkiller which was pulled from the market in 2004 after a study found that it increased heart-attack and stroke cases. The year before it was pulled, Vioxx generated $2.5 billion in sales, making it Merck’s third-most popular drug at that time. Merck already paid $4.85 billion to settle thousands of patient lawsuits claiming injuries, $1.9 billion in legal costs, and $58 million to settle state claims that the company’s TV advertisements were deceptive and covered up health risks. This defective product caused extensive harm for injury victims who suffered personal injuries as a result of Merck’s negligence.
The central controversy in this case was marketing: prosecutors contended that Merck marketed Vioxx for unapproved uses – between 1999 and 2002 it sold Vioxx as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis when it was not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for that purpose – and for false statements about its cardiovascular safety. New York City residents should be aware that all pharmaceutical drugs may be defective, and our product liability attorneys in New York City will be there to fight for maximum compensation should any harm be incurred in taking such drugs.
Unfortunately, the severity of the effects on injury victims of this defective product are hard to overstate; many people suffered devastating injuries as a result of taking Vioxx, and some even suffered wrongful deaths. Former Vioxx users sued Merck based on the claim that Merck officials withheld data in 2000 in a clinical trial that proved definitely that Vioxx caused five times as many heart attacks when compared to a similar painkiller. Injury victims also claimed that Merck published misleading information about Vioxx’s health risks.