The New York State Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, along with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have filed a lawsuit on behalf of the State of New York and New York City in a New York state court seeking damages, penalties, and restitution for “tens of millions of taxpayer dollars wrongfully spent on Vioxx prescriptions”.

The lawsuit, filed last month, alleges that Merck concealed the risks of Vioxx and that many Vioxx prescriptions would have never been written if doctors had been properly informed of the risks associated with the drug. Attorney General Cuomo, stated when filing the Lawsuit:

Merck’s irresponsible and duplicitous conduct endangered the health of New Yorkers and wasted tax dollars even as evidence was piling up showing just how dangerous this drug was, Merck put profits above all else and put thousands at risk by continuing to push Vioxx inappropriately on doctors and patients.

The lawsuit was brought under New York’s recently-enacted False Claims Act, which allows the state to seek damages for the amount spent in Medicaid and the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) healthcare programs to pay for drugs prescribed under false pretenses.

This is the first case brought under the new law. The State of New York spent over $100 million on Vioxx prescriptions through Medicaid and EPIC between 1999 and 2004. This lawsuit, which will have huge ramifications, will be watched closely.

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