New York State has filed its first suit under the state’s recently enacted False Claims Act. The suit, filed jointly by the state and New York City on September 17, 2007, accuses Merck of misrepresenting the dangers of its drug Vioxx. According to the Attorney General’s press release, the suit seeks damages and civil penalties in addition to restitution for tens of millions of taxpayer dollars wrongly spent on Vioxx.
According to the press release, Merck deliberately suppressed and concealed information about the seriousness of the cardiovascular risks associated with Vioxx. The suit claims many of those prescriptions would never have been written had doctors been properly informed.
Between 1999, when Vioxx was introduced, and 2004 when it was pulled from the market, Medicaid and EPIC (the New York State-sponsored prescription plan for seniors) spent over $100 million on Vioxx prescriptions in New York State.