A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana [official website] on Tuesday ruled in favor of Merck & Co. [corporate website] in a lawsuit filed by the state of Louisiana over reimbursements for the prescription painkiller Vioxx [JURIST news archive]. Louisiana had argued that it would have restricted the sales of Vioxx through state Medicaid [official website] if the officials had known about increased chances of heart attack and stroke caused by the drug. US District Judge Eldon Fallon found that Louisiana failed to prove that it would have stopped reimbursing sales of the drug if the state had better information about its effects. The lawsuit, filed in 2005 by the Louisiana Attorney General's Office, was joined [JURIST report] in 2008 by the state of Florida.
Vioxx has been the subject of stream of litigation since Merck pulled it from the market in September 2004 after a study showed that it could double the risk of heart attack or stroke if taken for more than 18 months. State and federal lawsuits have been filed in Louisiana, California, New Jersey and Texas [JURIST reports]. In April, the US Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that a securities fraud claim filed against Vioxx had not passed its statute of limitations and could proceed. 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 [JURIST report] regarding its marketing and distribution of Vioxx.