New York State, City sue Merck over Vioxx

New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have filed a joint lawsuit against Merck, alleging the drugmaker misrepresented the cardiovascular risks associated with its Vioxx painkiller.

The civil lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, seeks damages, penalties and restitution for taxpayer dollars wrongfully spent on Vioxx prescriptions. It is first case to be brought under New York State's recently enacted False Claims Act.

According to the New York Attorney General's Office, between 1999, when Vioxx was introduced, and 2004 when it was pulled from the market, Medicaid and EPIC spent over $100 million on Vioxx prescriptions in New York State. For its residents receiving Medicaid assistance, New York City paid a substantial share of those costs.

Merck said in a statement that it has not yet received the complaint filed by New York State and New York City seeking Medicaid reimbursement costs.

Merck said it intends to defend against the suit as it has defended against the Medicaid-related suits filed more than a year ago by a handful of other states including Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Texas and Utah.

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