As if the 27,785 heart attacks and deaths from 1999 through 2003 weren’t bad enough, between 1999 and 2004, Florida’s taxpayer-supported Medicaid program spent more than $80 million on the deadly drug—and the state’s Attorney General intends to get it back. Florida joins eight other states that are suing Merck in hopes of recouping losses to their Medicaid programs.
According to Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, the maker of Vioxx (Merck) engaged in deceptive marketing practices that directly led to the numerous claims. McCollum’s statement said,
“The Attorney General’s lawsuit claims Merck’s costly promotional campaign was intended to convince purchasers that the drug was not only safe, but that they should demand it from their health care professionals for pain treatment. The company also allegedly tried to intimidate physicians and researchers who questioned the safety of Vioxx and may have misrepresented or concealed published evidence, including its own, showing possible harmful effects of the drug."
The Attorney General contends that if the facts about Vioxx had been known earlier, physicians and their Medicaid patients would have chosen other, less expensive prescriptions. The lawsuit demands restitution to the State of Florida, plus interest, for all state program payments – including Medicaid reimbursements – made for Vioxx prescriptions. The lawsuit also seeks civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation of the law.”