Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane announced that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania reached an $8.25 million settlement with Merck, maker of the prescription drug Vioxx. After payment of attorney fees and litigation costs, approximately $6.9 million of the settlement funds will support Pennsylvania’s prescription assistance program—PACE—which helps qualified seniors pay for the medications they need.
“The Merck settlement will further support PACE programs and help grant access to affordable prescription drugs to our seniors in need,” said Kane. “Merck had a clear legal obligation to disclose known harmful side effects from Vioxx to both the medical community and patients. Companies that fail to reveal pertinent facts about side effects from their drugs should be aware there are legal and monetary costs to pay for misleading the citizens of Pennsylvania.”
“This settlement is great news for older Pennsylvanians that need assistance with purchasing their medications,” said Secretary of Aging Brian Duke. “We thank the Attorney General’s Office for helping secure this settlement for those in need.”
Pennsylvania’s lawsuit against Merck alleged that the company failed to disclose its studies, which showed the use of Vioxx increased the user’s risk of serious illnesses, such as heart attack and stroke. In the lawsuit, the Commonwealth stated that it would not have purchased the quantities of Vioxx it did had Merck properly disclosed the studies revealing the associated health risks.
First approved by the FDA in 1999 as a painkiller, Vioxx was removed from the U.S. market amid reports that it was causing health problems– including heart attack, stroke and death—for some of its users. The $8.25 million Pennsylvania settlement was negotiated by Cohen, Placitella and Roth, P.C., a Philadelphia based law firm. After legal fees and costs, the Commonwealth will receive $6.9 million that will go toward PACE programs.
PACE benefits low income senior Pennsylvanians. For more information on PACE, please visit the Department of Aging’s PACE website at http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/prescription_assistance/17942
Source: Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General