Merck has won the first trial over its Vioxx brought by a state that sought to be reimbursed for millions of dollars in payment for the withdrawn painkiller. In fact, the folks who run Louisiana’s state health plans argued they would have denied coverage for Vioxx prescriptions if they’d known the drug posed a greater heart-attack risk than rival meds. The state sought $20 million from the drugmaker.
In his ruling, US District Court Judge Eldon Fallon noted that even though pain relievers in the same class as Vioxx, called Cox-2 inhibitors, were all required by the FDA to carry a warning about heart risks, Louisiana health officials never restricted payments for those drugs. This was, by the way, the first of more than a dozen such refund lawsuits filed by states over Vioxx to go to trial (read the Merck brief filed in response to the lawsuit).
The state, however, appears unwilling to give up. Jim Duggan, a private lawyer whose firm was retained by the state for the litigation, says a meeting will be held later this to week discuss an appeal. "We are not giving up on the case," he tells the Associated Press, adding he believes the state has strong grounds for an appeal.