[JURIST] Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum [official website] filed a lawsuit [press release] Wednesday against Merck & Co. [corporate website] in support of state agencies that were harmed by Merck's allegedly deceptive marketing campaign promoting its prescription painkiller Vioxx [JURIST news archive]. The lawsuit filed in the US District Court of the Eastern District of Louisiana [official website] claims that Merck's marketing campaign was used to not only show the drug was safe but also to persuade customers to demand the drug, which is an non-steroid anti-inflammatory used to treat joint pain, from their health care professionals. It is also alleged that Merck threatened physicians and researchers who questioned the drug's safety and that the company hid evidence of harmful effects of Vioxx. Florida is the eighth state to sue Merck over its marketing campaign. AP has more. The Tampa Bay Business Journal has local coverage.
Merck has been involved in a stream of Vioxx-related litigation during the last few years, including state and federal lawsuits in Louisiana, California, and additional suits in New Jersey and Texas [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.