Seeking to recoup tens of millions spent by government-financed health programs on prescriptions for Vioxx, New York State and New York City joined yesterday in filing a lawsuit against Merck, the drug’s maker, which withdrew the painkiller from the market in 2004 because of dangerous side effects.
The lawsuit, filed yesterday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, accuses Merck & Company of intentionally concealing the dangers of Vioxx, and therefore defrauding the state Medicaid program, which paid for the prescriptions. The drug was used to treat arthritis and migraines but led to a high risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Several other states have filed similar lawsuits against Merck — more than 25,000 suits have been brought so far — seeking reimbursement for taxpayer dollars spent on purchasing Vioxx and on treating patients for its side effects. The suits have focused on drug pricing and safety, involving both consumer and Medicaid fraud.
“Merck’s irresponsible and duplicitous conduct endangered the health of New Yorkers and wasted our tax dollars,” Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement.
“Even as evidence was piling up showing just how dangerous this drug was, Merck put profits above all else.”
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